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Destino / Michelle Frankfurter

February 2015

Exhibit opening, screening, & talk
Tuesday February 3, 2015, 7:30 PM
Moderated by Anna Van Lenten, Half King Photo Series curator

“Once you’re up there, you can’t move around . . . the train doesn’t run fast—about 20 mph—but it stops, lurches forward, jerks enough to get knocked off. Riders string a rope end to end to tether themselves and their few belongings.”


In Destino, Michelle Frankfurter tells the story of the odyssey made by undocumented immigrants from Central America up to the U.S.-Mexican border. To find her story, Michelle made three 13-hour journeys atop the Arriaga-Oaxaca freight train, hung out at migrant shelters and border towns, and marched with trekkers. The long route is rife with mischance and misdeeds: from the assaults of climate, thirst, and hunger, to the official and unofficial agents who target vulnerable travelers for deportation, extortion, and sex.


With her Bronica film camera (“smaller than a breadbasket, bigger than a puppy”), Michelle has zeroed in on the journey’s epic aspects as a way of highlighting the courage and desperation that lend strength to its undertaking. For the most part, her subjects are young men and women, some carrying children, some children themselves—all running from nightmare lives toward the hope of safer circumstances in America. In essence, her job since 2009 has been to befriend people in passing, people who are risking everything for a break.

~ Anna Van Lenten



MICHELLE FRANKFURTER has concentrated her photography on themes of migration and the U.S.—Mexico border region since 2000. Awards include two from World Press Photo for her Haiti work, a Top 50 Critical Mass award (2011), finalist for the 2011 Aftermath Project, the 2012 FotoEvidence Book Award for Destino, and a 2013 Aaron Siskind Foundation grant. Destino, her first book, was published in September 2014 by FotoEvidence.

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