2001 — student runner-up
Ramon Jimenex Cuen was born in 1976 in Oaxaca, Mexico, and currently makes his home there. His book, "Brothers Under the Bridge," about street children in Oaxaca, was published in 2001 and his photographs on that same subject have been displayed in Mexico and in London. He owns a small company dedicated to photography, web design and video production.
How has the Alexia grant influenced your career?
Made myself more confident getting to know the work of other artists who are concerned and committed to the same ideas, thoughts, feelings and humanity; a collective of mutual understanding searching the same path for human dignity and world peace.
How did your project lead to greater exposure or solutions for your issue of focus?
My project ended in a book and all the work was donated to the LSE, London for a permanent exhibition. In my local community the impact of my images deeply affected the society. The images are always a reference in magazines locally and nationally and I always have a new invitation to show my work again.
Tell us about a moment from the project that you will never forget.
I will never forget the moment when all the kids gave me their friendship and overlooked our differences.
Have you, or do you plan on expanding your project? How so?
Yes, I want to do a documentary film, see how everything has changed or not, ten years after I took my last photograph for the project.
How has being a part of the Alexia community changed the way you view the world?
I gained trust and confidence - pursuing things that I assumed never will change.
This project is about street children addicted to drugs living in Oaxaca, Mexico, in poverty and extremely hard human conditions and ignored by their own community.
In Oaxaca, I found a group of kids running without direction, living as outcasts under the city. Their families send them to work on the streets. They clean the windows of cars when the red light stops them. They use almost all the money to buy drugs. They sniff different kinds of solvents and glue. Sometimes they use marijuana. They are between 12 and 22 years old. Almost all have been in jail. The police are always looking for them, even when they are clean. I want to capture a complete vision of their situation, follow their lives until they show me the end. I want to capture the essence of their lives which has been forgotten.
I started this project in a workshop class. Since then, I have been working on this project under the instruction of different Mexican photographers.
I began my relationship with the kids by meeting the leader of the group "El Mitra." He invited me to a popular bar. We drank a beer together as a symbol of friendship. Now he is gone, but because of that meeting all the kids accepted me as one of them.
Most of the kids are boys, with the exception of "La Guera" and "Rosita." One 18-year-old teenage thinks he is Bruce Lee when he is high. When he was younger he used to be a really good basketball player, and since then everybody knows him as "El Jordan." "El Moreno," "El Saltarin," "El Payaso," "El Botanas" and "El Chango" are some other characters.
I believe in the importance of documentary photography as a portrait of the social reality and as a memory of our time. With this project I will show the hard conditions all these kids face as an icon of poverty and the extreme conditions of life in the middle of the indifference of society.