Indexing the Execrable: Stefan Ruiz’s Mexican Crime Photographs

“Here he has collected thieves and murderers, but mostly thieves. Los Ladrones. Sticky fingers”.

Mexican Crime Photographs from the archive of Stefan Ruiz

With dry and flaking fingers, the man combs over the contents of a shoe box full of rusty paperclips and tattered and some odorous pieces of paper featuring young men, so many young men tethered to index cards stating various acrimony, his fingers lingering on occasion to touch the image mounted with rough and yellowing glue to contemplate where do all these boys go wrong at on their way to becoming dying old men. For this question, he has no real answers. He has spent a lifetime quietly accumulating the cultural debris, some might hypothesize artifacts of un-desirability. Here he has collected thieves and murderers, but mostly thieves. Los Ladrones. Sticky fingers. These individuals with these soft faces, these individuals with these hard faces. The crimes f stealing bread and the crimes of stealing bread with lead. He indexes these offences in his mind with some resolute clarity, only to find that after time the images and names no longer correspond to each other when he re-examines his shoeboxes and questions to what purpose it means too index the execrable over that of the ponderously hopeful.

 

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@ Stefan Ruiz

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@ Stefan Ruiz

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@ Stefan Ruiz

“He indexes these offences in his mind with some resolute clarity, only to find that after time the images and names no longer correspond to each other when he re-examines his shoeboxes and questions to what purpose it means too index the execrable over that of the ponderously hopeful”.

Stefan Ruiz’s “Mexican Crime Photographs” for GOST Is a well-executed project by an excellent photographer. The small tome reminds me of the mugshots in my own shoeboxes and with this I merit the work as exemplary. The text in the latter part of the book by Benjamin Smith makes an interesting notation that there are very few murderers in the collection, which I ruminate over. I surmise that this is because Ruiz was not sold the good shit at the flea market. There is no lack of murderers in Mexican crime as ALARMA! and all of the red magazines will remind you. I have a stash a very terrible murders from Mexico in my own collection, but they are indexed by gore, not mugshot. Ruiz own work fits very interestingly alongside these images. His work “Telenovellas” in Mexico City and his “Cholombianos” have an interesting indexicality of their own. I wonder if a combination of the two projects could have resulted in something quite interesting. That being said, I am happy to have this book on my shelf. One point of clarity, unless Ruiz intends this as a body of his own work, it is not an archive per se, but a collection. The difference of the two is the way the author decides to absorb the material in his own oeuvre or to decline its invitation for that of simply a hobbyist approach to acquisition. The “archive” word is something to consider as to its implicit function and should be used as such.

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Mexican Crime Photographs

Stefan Ruiz

GOST

(All rights reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm. Images @ Stefan Ruiz.)

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