documenting worlds
photography by annie appel
film-based work *
The project began with a chance encounter. In summer 1994, while
traveling in Baja, Mexico, I met María. Eight months pregnant and
accompanied by two young daughters, she was trudging up a dirt
road to take lunch to her husband. I offered water and drawing
pencils. In exchange, they invited me to join them. The family lived
in a two-room, adobe house that Jaime, Maria's husband, had built
of bricks he made from local clay. I believed they had a more
immediate kind of life than I did. Their humanity seemed more raw
than what I knew. I promised myself to document their world for a
decade. That commitment stretched to two decades. During my 23
visits, spaced according to my resources, my cameras and journals
tracked life transitions. I imagined the outcome as a simple, yet
universal, story: One family, their war on poverty, and the broad
devastation wrought by generations of illiteracy. The work shifted
over time to include a tale of friendship, trust, and how strangers
become family