For Al Otro Lado del Sueño, or The Other Side of the American Dream, photographer Nicola “Ókin” Frioli catalogues the heartbreak and devastation suffered by migrant families and individuals seeking security and stability in the United States. Having left El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, or Nicaragua in hopes of escaping from the gang violence that pervades much of Central America and delivering their families from the brink of economic collapse, a great number of men, women, and children pass through Mexico.
Through this treacherous passage, many are subjected to violent beatings, sexual abuse, kidnappings, and murder at the hands of the country’s gangs, including the Maras Salvatruchas, and corrupt officials operating within the system. Migrants often lose limbs under the heavy wagons of a vehicle known simply as “the beast,” a cargo train that transports them across the country in hopes of reaching the US.
Frioli began his project in 2008 by visiting the Shelter Jesus Buen Pastor in Tapachula, Chiapas, one of the Mexico’s Catholic shelters offering aid and medical care to injured migrants. Years later, he photographed in the Shelter of the Padre Solalinde, an Oaxaca-based shelter that provides short-term care for migrants. Here, Frioli gives a potent voice to these persons whose struggles remain largely invisible to the global public. In his stark images, the injured stand alone, confronting the fact that their bodies are irrevocably altered; for some, the loss of limbs has made it nearly impossible to work and provide for their families. Under Frioli’s dignified spotlight, they appear wounded but resilient, imbued with a palpable desire to endure. As their wounds fade to scars, their personal possessions remain alone against blackness, becoming lasting reminders of a shared humanity that transcends all borders.