Between December 2017 and March 2018, I had the opportunity to work on some photo projects in Mexico. I present a series of three articles about my work on the sweatshops of the Tehuacán region in the state of Puebla. I wrote a series of articles on the underside of the garment industries in Mexico.
Surprise! Cotton is not born blue. Jeans must be dyed. It seems trivial, but it is far from the case. Blue pigmentation is not found in nature. Before modern chemistry, blue color was the most difficult to obtain for painters. It’s a little known fact. The amount of blue was negotiated in a painting as it affected the price. The pigments were made from lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone. Today, blue comes from large chemical industries. Its chemical composition is complex and most blues are lighter than water, which confines them to the surface of runoff.
We don’t come to get married in front of these falls
On my first visit, we were accompanied by Martin Barrios of the labour and human rights Commission of Tehuacán. He brought us to a place of contaminated water spills from washing jeans. There are some of these factories all over the place in the area.
It must be understood that the reason why your jeans do not rub off in the wash is that they have previously rubbed off elsewhere. The concentration of jeans factories in the area of Tehuacán means a concentration of waste water contaminated with dye. The smell of these waters is nauseating. A thick moss covers the waters.
This is not the way to make blue corn
Sewage from plants is spilled and is found throughout the local stream network. These streams irrigate the fields of local corn growers.
The Tehuacán region is the world cradle of corn. According to recent discoveries, corn as we know it (or almost) dates back to more than 5000 years. The domestication process dates back to 9000 years. The varieties of corn are counted in the hundreds. Rest assured, the blue-purple variants do not come from contaminated water. You can continue to eat your nachos in peace. 😉
The concentration of dye in the water varies depending on the proximity of the plants and the geology of the surrounding areas. But, as we can see, this concentration of pollutants can be very important. The images are surreal. It’s hard to believe when you see it.
This blue water is everywhere. The farmers, for lack of other resources, are forced to use it to water their fields. The rancid odor is everywhere and the muddy or dry residues are everywhere on the surface of the fields.
In Tehuacán, the violence is not just blood red, it is also blue jeans.
If you still find a strange beauty in these blue jeans streams, you will surely like the photos ofEdward Burtynsky.
You can go and see my other projects by clicking here.