mexico_280Being Strong began as a project in the context of the Mexican drug violence, which in 2011 had reached unprecedented levels in the wealthy north-eastern city of Monterrey.  The work, however, was never about the violence directly. It began as an attempt to look at the social and economic circumstances that many of the victims and perpetrators of the violence were coming from: young, male, and working class. As the photographs were made and the project developed I realised they also reflected on masculinity, and what it is to be a man.

The drugs violence in Mexico has many dynamics, including those related to its geopolitical position alongside its neighbour the United States. However, at its base is a large, young, male population, who are struggling with domestic problems, economic difficulties, and high levels of social inequality. They are growing up in a rigid patriarchal society, where gang membership has become the norm, and where displays of masculinity often lead to violence.

These photos are an introduction to this life. Over the first 6 months of 2012, individuals from two street gangs, “Los Pokos Lokos” and “Los Quimicos”, slowly introduced me to their lives, allowed me to photograph their world, and shared their experiences of growing up in the working class neighbourhoods of Monterrey, Mexico.

Tom King

Radio Genesis 98.1 FM, Monterrey, Mexico