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The Cruzz

Artist Feature of Baptiste Penetticobra

“The Cruzz” is a semi-documentary photography project that brings together images produced during two summers spent with a Mexican family in a small gated community, south-east of Mexico City.

The series specifically focuses on the teenage sons of the clan. Started in the summer of 2020 (in the thick of the pandemic) the series is set against a sedate suburban world in which the two teenagers, devoid of any social life or ambition, wander through what felt like a petrified and deserted present.

In many ways, the series was born out of boredom and uncertainty. Wanting to avoid a photographer’s distanced and cold stance, I asked the Cruzes to participate and collaborate on the series - thus turning a traditional documentary approach into an enigmatic game of roleplay, a collective, daily, exercise. Having no access to a photo studio, we built together a quick-and-dirty backdrop with old sheets taped to the wall in a neighboring uninhabited house - "scenes" were lit using bathroom neon lights pinned to the ceiling.

Images travel back and forth between documentary and mise-en-scene, real and performed. They often showcase a self-fictionalized version of their protagonists derived from American aesthetic and ritual imports and contemporary Mexican mythos. As they were invited to stage themselves within the images, the two teenagers spontaneously adopted postures borrowed from rap music videos and a visual vocabulary of the extremes. The series also showcases the teenagers’ collection of makeshift firearms and knives, built out of discarded materials such as duct tape, energy drink cans, pieces of plumbing pipes, and sculpted agave stems.

“The Cruzz” brings together images of various functions with no desire for hierarchy. Portraits, objects, and situations examine each other and tell an inconclusive story. Together, they form a collection of hints, and perspectives on the two teenagers’ relationship to a world that is collapsing around them while exploring the constructed nature of photography, residential boredom, and territorial myth.