150 - Alejandro Cartagena

Alejandro Cartagena was born in the Dominican Republic in 1977 and lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico. His projects employ landscape and portraiture as a means to examine social, urban and environmental issues. Alejandro’s work has been exhibited internationally in more than 50 group and individual exhibitions in spaces including the Cartier foundation in Paris and the CCCB in Barcelona, and his work is in the collections of several prestigious museums including the San Francisco MOMA, The J. Paul Getty Museum and The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, among others.

Alejandro is a self-publisher and co-editor and has created several award wining titles including A Small Guide to Home Ownership, The Velvet Cell 2020, Carpoolers, Self-published with support of FONCA Grant, 2014, Suburbia Mexicana, Daylight/ Photolucida 2010. Some of his books are in the Yale University Library, the Tate Britain, and the 10×10 Photobooks/MFH Houston book collections among others.

Alejandro has received several awards including the international Photolucida Critical Mass Book Award, the Street Photography Award at the London Photo Festival, the Lente Latino Award in Chile, the Premio IILA-FotoGrafia Award in Rome and the Salon de la Fotografia of Fototeca de Nuevo Leon in Mexico among others. His work has been published internationally in magazines and newspapers such as Newsweek, Nowness, Domus, the Financial Times, The New York Times, Le Monde, Stern, PDN, The New Yorker, and Wallpaper among others.


On episode 150, Alejandro discusses, among other things:

  • How divorce led him to Stoicism
  • Parenthood being the ‘most difficult thing you can bear’.
  • Living in multiple paradigms
  • His current excitement over poetry
  • Why he started ‘vandalising’ archive images
  • Learning about photography through working in an archive
  • Being an outsider as a kid
  • His new book A Small Guide to Home Ownership
  • Wanting to make some books that are pop songs, not symphonies




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“There’s nothing new about documentary photography, you just take pictures of what’s there, you know, but the opportunity of making it poetic or lyrical is to confront ideas that weren’t meant to be seen with each other. And that’s what’s exciting for me sometimes.”