Mex and the City is an online collective and creative agency based in New York. One of its founders, Marina Garcia-Vasquez, wanted to create a tangible glimpse of the “new global Mexican identity,” so she, along with photographer Carlos Alvarez Montero and other contributors, put together Racial Profiling. The book collects photos and profiles of Mexicans in New York and elsewhere, along with interviews and photos of the work they’re producing, with the goal of showing the diversity of contemporary Mexican identity.
Why did you decide to put this book together?
We first started Racial Profiling as an editorial to build out our online community for Mex And The City. I always knew I wanted to have authentic portraits that celebrated individualism, but it wasn’t until I met the photographer Carlos Alvarez Montero in person and we spoke about ideas of identity that Racial Profiling was born. Since then we’ve hit Mexico City and Los Angeles to represent current culture. The book project is at once a photo art book, an homage to these large cities, and a recognition of the relationship between Mexico and the United States.
How did you decide who would make it into the book—are there any thematic ties?
Thematically, we curated the portraits with individuals whose work has them moving between cities. We found that many NY Mexicans went back and forth between Mexico and California for work. We wanted to acknowledge that movement. This is how the idea of the new global Mexican identity came about.
Did the idea for the book arrive fully formed, or did it start to take shape as you accumulated profiles?
When we first started the project, everyone asked what our goals were. If we were going to publish a book or develop the series into an exhibit? Because we are more of an art collective, we always agreed that it would be an organic movement through time. And because producing the portraits is actually a lot of work!
This book is just one facet of a larger project. Could you talk more about that?
Racial Profiling, the portrait series, is the basis for Mex and the City developing real community and marking our identity as a brand. We are now a creative agency and a movement. Our goals are to promote a contemporary Mexican identity through arts, culture, and design.
You describe this book as a “tool for communication.” What would you like to communicate?
Most of our work is found online as a blog or events captured by photos or video. We are a digital community but wanted to create something tangible and timeless, something you could find in bookstores or in a library. The book as a tool for communication is a means to show that migration does not have to be taboo, that there is strength in individual passions, and that as a culture and collective we contribute beautiful work to society.
Will the book be similar to the profiles on the site?
Yes the book will feature the portraits by Carlos Alvarez Montero on the site as well as newer collections not yet published. It will contain intro essays and Q&As. But I am also very excited to include a catalog section to show individual creator output. So that when we feature an artist, a hotelier, and a scientist we also have an example of their work to refer to: a piece of art, a designed hotel, a theoretical module. It’s an art catalog and historical record.