‘People Of The Clouds’: A Story Of Ghost Towns & Great Migrations— Great Story & Photos JR
In 1998, a deep freeze devastated the orange crop in California’s large, flat Central Valley and, according to photographer Matt Black, 10,000 people lost their jobs — many of them migrant workers. It was while photographing the aftermath that he came across something unexpected: the sound of Mixtec, a pre-Columbian indigenous dialect from Mexico.
Intrigued by this obscure language and culture, Black traveled to the source in Mexico — more than 10 times — to better understand who the Mixteca are and what they are doing in California. In his words:
Named the “Place of the Cloud People” by the Aztecs and home to one of the oldest pre-Columbian cultures in the Americas, the Mixteca have lost over a quarter-million people to migration, leaving scores of villages little more than ghost towns.
His project explores the many complex socioeconomic questions surrounding migration and leaves one wondering: Can small, isolated communities continue to exist in our modern world? Can identity live on in a ghost town? Can a culture itself emigrate?