EDITED BY CONOR RISCH
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THE VALLEY OF
DAVID ROCHKIND’S NEW BOOK DOCUMENTS
THE PHYSICAL, SOCIAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL
TOLLS ON THE MEXICAN POPULACE OF
THEIR GOVERNMENT’S WAR AGAINST THE
DRUG CARTELS. BY DZANA TSOMONDO
EVERY WAR OPERATES under its own immutable logic and yet, in the end, every war is the same.
No matter what sets the grisly machinery in motion, the obscene becomes mundane, each depredation fueling the next. So it is that a relatively modest “police action” in one of Mexico’s 32 states
has become a gyre of unspeakable violence and cyclical retribution with no end in sight.
David Rochkind’s new book, Heavy Hand, Sunken Spirit, is an attempt to photographically document the toll that unrelenting carnage is taking on Mexico’s social fabric. “The title encapsulates
the mood of the book and it represents the general mood of the people I spoke to and photographed,” says Rochkind. “There was a severity to the violence that seemed to depress the mood
and cultural vibrancy in each place that it occurred … [It] seemed that, at least from the outside, the
heat of the conflict was melting two worlds together, making a singular Mexico defined as much
by violence and tension as by history and culture.”
A girl walks by a caravan of police vehicles during a security sweep in Nogales, Sonora. It’s common for police forces
on the border to sweep through communities, looking for criminals and searching for anyone they deem suspicious.