The House that Bleeds

When his brothers in law disappeared in Iguala, Mexico Yael Martínez turned to photography. His images capture the grief that many families in the state of Guerrero feel. The violence fuelled by the drug trade has caused many disappearances.
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Guerrero is one of the Mexican States that has been most affected by organised crime; it is the second poorest and most violent state in the country. The condition of the social and economic marginalisation of Guerrero is becoming more evident. The state of the rule of law is increasingly alarming and forced disappearances are only one of the symptoms that prove it. In 2013, three of my brothers-in-law died (they used to live in Iguala, the place from where the Ayotzinapa students disappeared). One of them was killed; the other two disappeared.

After these events I began documenting my family, and the families of other missing people, in order to capture the psychological and emotional breakdown caused by the loss of family members; especially for parents, children, and siblings. I am working with the concepts of pain, emptiness, absence, and forgetting.


Yael and his wife, Lucero. “I wanted to show the emotional and psychological fractures that come with such losses,” Mr. Martínez said of his family’s travails. “There is fear and impotence because you can’t get an answer.” ©Yael Martínez

I am seeking social and cultural clues that can allow me to create a personal account of the issues that families face when dealing with an unexpected death. Through my own testimony, I want to show the relationship between intimate space and personal life, which is reflected in the social experience. I am thus trying to depict the situation that many families in this region face, which they live through daily, and is one of the causes of the unraveling of Mexico’s social fabric.

It is imperative to work on this photo essay project in order to create a socio-historical memory of the issues that currently exist in Guerrero, Mexico and the inequitable fight between repressive State forces and organised crime, which are the cause of the disintegration of Mexican society and identity. Through my photographic work, I seek to focus on social problems that will resonate with my communities, which is what makes it worthwhile to me. I think that my photography can be integrated in a very intimate way, as I feel connected to my people and to my homeland.


©Yael Martínez, The House that Bleeds

I am trying to represent the relationship of absence and presence and this state of invisibility in a symbolic manner. I must represent the physical and psychological wear that accumulates over time without the slightest response from the authorities, which burdens families with despair and profound emptiness.
I am interested in voicing the aspects that go unseen- the side that remains hidden within families. I would like to find a way to externalise what households live through and everything that happens to them as our society crumbles and we destroy our identity, our nucleus, our heart.