Danish photographer Cécile Smetana Baudier’s pictures take us to the South coast of Guerrero, Mexico. Diaspora: Costa Chica sheds light on this territory and a repressed community: African-Mexicans.

Smetana Baudier’s photographs talk tenderly and fairly of humanity. Behind a beautiful aesthetics, her series study history and society. “I try not to photograph a thing, but a feeling. I don’t like to be too specific in my work. For instance, if I had to do a story about immigrants crossing the ocean to get to Europe, I would never actually photograph a boat with refugees on it. Everyone can imagine what that scenario looks like, and they are already moving on to another story”, the artist explains. Thus Cécile’s depiction of Costa Chica is filtered by her gaze, devoid of any clichés. A captivating project denouncing the attitude of the Mexican government towards the African minorities. “Photography should challenge the way you are looking the world and it should make you want to engage yourself”, she adds.

A beautified minority

The photographer protests through her images, trying to shed light on this all too discrete Diaspora. “I had been living in Mexico for about 8 months and had nothing to show for it”, she tells us. “Then, I discovered a photo book about African-Mexicans. I learnt that the Mexican government only recognised its 1.38 million citizens of African descent in 2015”. Immediately fascinated by the topic, the photographers started researching and left soon after for Costa Chica. There, she discovered its community, especially the women. “They had been told that they were “too black” to be Mexican”, Cécile confides. The series then became a love letter to those persons, set aside by their own country. The pictures seem to glow, beautifying women’s faces, and their hometown. Through her lens, Cécile Baudier depicts a strong society, anchored into the Mexican territory. A welcome and moving tribute.

The wind is blowing harshly just before sunset.
In 2015, the Afro-Mexican community were finally recognized by the Mexican government, but in the small villages of Costa Chica, Oaxaca, people are still struggling to regain their identity. 
The dust enters every window, every crack and there are not many trees, to protect you from the sun. 

© Cécile Smetana Baudier