Little Boxes at the Edge of Mexico City

Sometimes it’s hard to tell fantasy from reality, particularly in the age of Photoshop-manipulated imagery. In this photograph by Oscar Ruiz, however, which offers an aerial shot of a housing development on the outskirts of Mexico City, what you see is real.

“A few years ago when I was working as a helicopter pilot for a local radio station, we were required to fly around all of Mexico City chasing news and traffic,” Ruiz explains. “I remember flying up to the highway that connects Mexico City with the neighboring state of Puebla, and on my way back this housing complex that seemed to go on forever caught my attention.”

Ruiz decided one day to circle around to take a closer look at the housing development, which he later learned was called San Buenaventura, located in the Ixtapaluca area of Mexico City. That’s when he took this photograph. What strikes me about this image is not necessarily the usual suburban sameness that similar photographs of American post-war sprawl call to mind, but the blurred reality at play. When I first looked at these perfect rows of houses, lined up side by side with their brilliant colors, I had a hard time discerning whether this was a painting or not. On closer examination, however, you can see beyond the fiction your eyes attempted to create and look into the lives of real people. In the interest of better setting the scene, hit play on Malvina Reynolds’ “Little Boxes” (below) while staring at Ruiz’ photograph.

(Photograph: Oscar Ruiz. Caption: Houses, Mexico.)