Graffiti, guns and grit... plus smiles. In a collection of black and white street photography, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio shows that even in the overpopulated, poverty-stricken capital, the city is still full of life. It’s the mixture of ruins and rubble that offers a complex image, at once hopeful and bleak. While the book presents imagery firmly grounded in Mexico – turkeys walking amongst stone debris, portraits of the classic round brown faces with high cheekbones, toreadors training next to a highway, re-enactments of the crucifixion – the themes are also universal to the expanding, generic cities of the world.
Besides being a renowned editor and curator, having contributed his efforts to many books, exhibitions and photo festivals, Monasterio has also published several books of his own. The Last City is arguably his most successful, earning him a prize for the best photo book at the Photographic Spring Festival in Barcelona (1998) and Gold Eye of the Festival Des Trois Continents in France (1997). Although produced more than 15 years ago, this book feels far from outdated. Ultimately, it’s a poignant view of the potential state of all metropolises: rising populations and the chasm between the rich and poor growing vastly deeper.
Reviewed by Katherine Oktober Matthews.