In 2017, documentary photographer Luke Swenson and ecologist Jack Dash began studying a remote section of the Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona known as the Atascosa Highlands. What began as a botanical survey, developed into a long term visual storytelling project documenting this rarely seen stretch of the USMexico border. Atascosa Borderlands, brings together over 250 original film photographs, historical images and floral specimens, along with found artifacts, maps, interviews and essays. Our ongoing project explores the complex cultural history, and ecological significance of this notoriously rugged landscape, uncovering its use as a migratory and smuggling route, documenting recent border wall construction, and investigating the historical context for border enforcement infrastructure in the Atascosas and how human activity threatens to reshape this biological paradise forever. By zooming in on a very small corner of the borderlands, we hope to proliferate a more nuanced understanding of this community, and effect positive change across the US-Mexico borderlands.
All images are taken on medium format film and processed digitally into 24 inches by 30 inch files at 300dpi.