Gallery of Cover Photos
Social Borders (June 2013): This image was taken in the Casco Viejo area of Panama City, Panama. Currently, the Panamanian government is working on a 10 year "restoration" program in an attempt to boost tourism in the historically rich Casco Viejo. A major task of the program is the forced removal of the squatter communities that have occupied the once neglected city area. This image illustrates the tide of "restoration" as it washes over the squatter communities; the social boundaries being demarcated by street barricades and a fresh coat of paint.
Infrastructural Layers (March 2015): This Puente Río Chiriquí Viejo (Old Chiriquí River Bridge) sits about 300 meters before the border crossing of Paso Canoas. A bronze plaque is mounted to the base of the concrete wall. Its presence is intended to remind travelers that the Republic of Panamá and the United States cooperatively constructed the steel bridge in 1960—when they completed the Pan-American Highway in this region. The bridge passes over the Rio Chiriquí Viejo. Prior to 1904 this river provided a geographical boundary between Costa Rica and Colombia (before Panamanian Independence). After 1904, it marked the border between Panamá and Costa Rica until their governments signed the Arias-Calderón Treaty in 1941; setting the border in the space that is now Paso Canoas. Centuries before the Pan-American Highway-- before both Costa Rica and Panamá were recognized as independent nations—indigenous groups used the Río Chiriquí Viejo as an important point of passage to carry people and items from one territory to the next. Periods of heavy rain would cause the river to flood; creating a safe crossing point for the travelers in their canoes. This is where the community gets its name: Paso Canoas (Canoe Pass/Canoe Crossing). Much like those who waited for the flood of water generations before, truck drivers now wait for their papers to flow from the customs office so that they can cross safely from Panamá to Costa Rica without bottoming out on the rocky floor of the customs regulations. Looking at this Puente Río Chiriquí Viejo you see layers of infrastructure. Each carrying its own history, but inextricably intertwined. To capture the history of Paso Canoas we must tell the multi-generational stories of human movement through these various forms of infrastructure.
Ruins of Infrastructure (May 2016): The Muelle Central (Central Pier) juts out from the coastline of Puerto Armuelles, Panama into the Pacific Ocean. This pier was once the primary loading dock for the massive banana boats that brought great wealth to Puerto Armuelles during the banana boom of the early 20th century. Now, the wooden structure is in extreme disrepair...a symbol of the poverty stricken state of the community since the departure of the major banana companies in the 1960s and 1970s. The people living in Puerto Armuelles have transformed the pier into a popular fishing spot. The steel boat ties that once secured the banana boats now serve as seats for the tired fisher folk. Just beyond the pier, oversized tires and railroad ties have been repurposed as swingsets and park benches for the children. It is common to find the infrastructural ruins of Puerto Armuelles' prosperous past hidden throughout the community. While economic booms come and go, the infrastructure often remains and the communities fight to move on from their moment of "progress". But, that complicated past is always present...appearing in various ways throughout the landscape of the town.