The Black Hours




On a gritty black and white, skins unfold marked by the hardship of unforgiving lives. But scars, tattoos and dark eyes are not all that Patricia Aridjis has captured in her work on mexican women penitentiaries. Neither is despair, even though each photograph aches, and shakes. The heartbreaking loneliness of some shots is splintered by the immense compassion of others. It brings us back to the basics of humanity : love, friendship, solidarity. Faith also, and the passage of time, which is the slow neuroma of a prisoner, invisible yet palpable in each of Aridjis' photographs, such a meaningful character in itself that it claimed the title of the series. Her pictures also radiate a universal desire for freedom that enthralls as much as it pains; with gratitude, maybe, at not being them; but also with an eerie sense of familiarity - who has never felt stuck, deprived, alone? 

Aridjis' extensive photojournalistic work took seven years of dedication and regular visits to the women detention centers of Mexico City. It non only includes her photography, which was shown in solo and group exhibitions more than sixty times, but also videos and written testimonies. In 2001, her work received first place in the Fifth Biennale of Photography, and in 2002, FONCA (the National Fund for Culture and Arts) awarded her the grant of the encouragement program for cultural projects. In 2006, she received the sponsorship of Revelaa, a Spanish foundation which supports photography geared towards social issues and justice.

The Black Hours are precious and rare; neither the clamoring of a political agenda or an exercise in voyeurism, they give a soul to a few forgotten, a voice to the unheard. "Take a picture of me, it's my only way out of here", she was told by a prisoner.