Mexican Week: Brayan Enríquez
Brayan Enríquez and I crossed paths at the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Portfolio Reviews, where his photo Soy Adicto a la Coca struck all the things I personally enjoy about a good photograph. The picture depicted his father sitting outdoors, sandwiched between a fence and a barricade of coke bottles, wearing a headpiece made of those very same bottles. It had the perfect blend of wit, humor, and tongue-in-cheek social commentary.
This time around however, his new series And Taste the Dirt Below” has a markedly solemn demeanor, offering a more intimate, unfiltered portrayal of his experience as a first-gen Mexican-American. The work underscores not only the gravity of his family’s earlier undocumented migration, but their home as a sanctuary for refuge and resistance.
One moment from the series stands out in its profound simplicity, in which Enríquez captures his parents’ censored counterfeit Social Security Cards against the raw intimacy of their skin in a tight close-up. The gesture is powerfully moving, evincing the multilayered relation between body and legality, visibility and autonomy, surveillance and freedom.
Evolved, distilled, and rich with emotion and symbolic depth, And Taste the Dirt Below shows an earnest growth of Enríquez’s contemplation on family post-migration and the everyday delineations of borders—whether physical, legal, societal, real or imagined.
—Vicente Isaías, Latin American Editor
Brayan (pron. Brian) Enriquez is a first-generation Mexican American whose photography focuses on his immediate family and their experience of being undocumented and the migrant experience in the United States. Brayan is a recipient of numerous awards including, The Larry and Gwen Walker Award, Georgia State University, Ernest G. Welch Juror Photography Award, and the Equity Scholarship from Atlanta Center for Photography (formerly Atlanta Celebrates Photography).
Follow Brayan on Instagram: @_brayanenriquez
And Taste the Dirt Below
Twenty-six years ago, my parents immigrated to the United States. As a child, I would imagine my parents’ odyssey through rudimentary terms: walking, loving, and bold. Through the years, however, I’ve managed to contextualize the reality of our situation and now use words such as treacherous, lonely, and fearful. When asked, my father replays the moment his group lay flat on their stomachs, hiding from an oblivious ICE officer who sat nearby. My mother recalls trekking through knee-high mud in an Arizona desert, thousands of miles away from her home in Acapulco, Guerrero. My sister, on the other hand, can’t remember much – she was only five years old at the time.
This project focuses on my immediate family and their experience of being undocumented to discuss the migrant experience in the United States. Working low-paying restaurant jobs, living in the same home, and witnessing family and friend’s deportation characterize my family’s American story. And through it all, society holds its gaze, judging and debating over them. Set within the confines of our home, this project unfolds within the sanctuary it provides—a refuge emblematic of the countless undocumented immigrants grappling with their own stories across the nation.
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