Artist's Statement

Sofia Aldinio

She was a wild woman
Those words lit up her family faces
As they were recounting her story
Standing where once was her land.

They said she used to belong to the wild
Until she was caught by the lasso
To become a wife, a mother, a story to be passed on.

She fought and fought
Like a wild force would
With her own body and soul
Where there used to be an old river
But not any more
Only dust and wind remains.

Like the weather, collective memory ebbs and flows. But what happens when the weather changes completely? Every year, in Baja California, Mexico, the intangible repercussions of climate change, namely the loss of traditional practices and ways of living, become more insidious. Awake in the Desert Land is an ongoing photography project documenting how climate change is uprooting small, inland and coastal communities that depend directly on natural resources to survive, and thereby threatening cultural heritage. The work aims to visually document the tension that is arising in these communities to create a poetic archive of their traditions and cultures.

The peninsula is facing stronger hurricanes, changes in precipitation patterns, changes in streamflow, loss of vegetation and soils, accelerated desertification and overall negative impact on fisheries and biodiversity. Climate change is contributing to the collective loss of ancient ways of life and traditional knowledge systems, putting cultural heritage at risk. In 2005, San Jose de Gracia, a 200-year-old community, was home to 72 people. Today, only 12 people live there, and only half of which do so full-time.

I believe meaningful change is accomplished by working collaboratively in the community that we live with. Awake in the Desert Land aims to create awareness of the effects that climate change has on cultural heritage and start a conversation about how the losses of cultural heritage has a direct impact on the mental health of the next generation.