ALEXIA ZÚÑIGA | Mexico City

Hello Alexia, when did you first become interested in photography?
I've always been interested in images. I used to paint a lot when I was a child. At family events,  parties or birthdays, I was always played with the camera and took pictures.

You submitted photos of your project „A common day“, which is an approach to four third age transsexuals in Mexico City. How did you come up with the idea and how did you realize this project?
I used to work for the Secretaría de Salud (The Health Ministery) in México. When I was watching news about health in Mexico, I came across topics related to problems of elderly people. Questions came up like am I prepared to have a good life when I turn 60 or 70 years old? Do I have guarantees to have a good quality of life? Do I have it now?

So, I started looking at minorities. My question was: if their present life is complicated, how is their future going to be?

How are transsexuals accepted in daily life in Mexico?
This is a problem in Mexico. World’s life expectancy has constantly increased during the last seven decades. Nevertheless, the transsexual community faces an average of below 60 years. Transsexual have a big problem with their health: they don´t get medical support. Many of the surgeries are made in secret places or they don´t have a medical follow-up when they are taking hormones. Baring all this in mind and knowing that México is no 2 on the list of countries (since 2015) for homofobic crimes worldwide. Brazil is first.

So in México, for example, it is almost impossible to find transgender over 60 years old. They don´t have official records.

LINK:
http://www.proceso.com.mx/403935/mexico-segundo-lugar-mundial-en-crimenes-por-homofobia

Can you tell us a little bit about the interaction between you and your models - Did you give any directions?
I gave no particular directions but we have to have a closer relation - I have to know their stories. It is necessary to listen before taking pictures. I´m always looking for that moment when I could have empathy with them, and when that happens, that shows us the way, a “direction” that we have to follow.

What did your models say when they saw the pictures of the project? Did they feel to be captured the way they see themselves?

Once one girl told to me:  “do you know that I have to look more girly than you? I can´t carry, for example, my cellphone in my trousers... my behavior has to be more prudent and rational on the street”.

They are always worried (like us) about how they look when they go out. But, after a while, after years, after the wrinkles, there is a moment when they see what they are, something that cannot be hiden anymore, that is age. When they let me get into their houses I can see that process - their places are their stories.

At the beginning, I always had the impression that they know they are showing me more than they expected. They realized that neither me nor them have control how they or we look. They recognize themselves without masks and that could be amazing and revealing. In my case, is truly revealing myself into them.

What is your intention with „ A common day“? Is there a plan to exhibit?
Now I´m in Brazil doing my MA at the Federal University of Bahia, so I plan to finish the project here by comparing differences and similarities of the transsexual communities in Mexico and Brazil. Next year I will exhibit in Brazil and México in December. I would also like to make a book of this project.

Do you need a particular mood to be able to photograph?
It´s just to have questions (and I always have questions).  When questions don´t have answers, I look in other directions: films, photos, conversations with friends.... then something happens and I start to take a lot of photos, trying to answer my questions.

So there is my mood. Have questions without answers.

Tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Mexico. Is there any work of female photographers you can recommend?
I think that México in the history of photography has always visual questions. There are a lot of female photographers doing fantastic woks: Gladys Serrano, Dolores Medel, Sonia Carolinain Mexico and in Brazil Mayra Lins for instance... they are photographers that are always questioning our context. And it is amazing how their photos give us more questions.

Are you already planning other photographic projects?
I started one in Brazil: 2024. A fictional documentary that tries to question how information on the internet is generated and consumed. The aim of this work is to create images that speak of this darkness like a physical phenomenon and like an unrest of disinformation, in some way, exhibit the fear that causes the uncertainty. You can see part of the project here.