Intipucá is neither here nor there: it exists as both at once. Migration to the United States has been a tradition in this city situated in El Salvador, since 1968. As a result of shifts in international migration policy over the years and the circular nature of migration between Central America and the United States, the structure of families in Intipucá has taken on a transnational identity. The United States has become something close and present, despite being geographically distant.
Traditional architecture in Intipucá can scarcely be seen among newly constructed palaces made possible by remittances from North America. Photographs of these houses and their interiors serve as portraits of both absence and aspiration, representing family members who have left and the material influence of the United States.
By combining this documentation of domestic spaces with portraits, interviews, and hand-written family trees drawn by Intipuqueños (names written in red for those living in the United States, and in blue for those living in Intipucá), we encourage viewers to reflect on the drivers and consequences of migration for individuals and their families.
First chapter of the project Welcome to Intipucá City realized during 2017 thanks to the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and LFI – Leica Fotografie International and the second one thanks to IWMF and Open Society Foundations.
Intipucá no está aquí ni allí: está en ambos lugares a la vez. Desde 1968 y con la partida de Silfredo Chávez, (re)conocido como el primer migrante, irse a Estados Unidos desde esa ciudad de El Salvador, se transformó en costumbre, en una parte de la historia y de vida del pueblo y de las familias. Estados Unidos se volvió algo cercano y presente aunque geográficamente lejano.
La (des)unidad familiar empezó a dibujar un territorio transnacional, las ausencias de los parientes contrastan con la omnipresencia de mansiones al estilo norteamericano, a la espera de un posible retorno. La piedra se convierte en el modo de seguir vinculado con la tierra natal cuando el cuerpo no lo puede hacer. Intipucá es un territorio en tensión, una identidad que fue sembrada en un lejano allá. Las familias se transformaron en rompecabezas, y la ciudad se volvió un pueblo de ancianos y adolescentes.
A través de la fotografía y de árboles genealógicos (hechos a mano por los intipuqueños), buscamos entender la identidad trastocada por una necesidad económica y social de irse, así como el impacto del hecho de migrar en un pueblo y sus habitantes, reconfigurando la noción de vínculos con el territorio y con la familia. El color rojo representa a los familiares establecidos en EE.UU. y el azul a quienes hoy siguen estando en Intipucá.
Primera fase del proyecto Welcome to Intipucá City realizado en 2017 gracias al apoyo del International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) y LFI – Leica Fotografie International y el segundo por el IWMF y Open Society Foundations.
At Hugo Salinas and his uncle Alcides Andrade’s house. The Statue of Liberty has been brought from the U.S. to El Salvador, Intipucá. September, 2017.
Trinidad Chávez in the courtyard of his childhood house in Intipucá. He lives in the U.S. for many years, and almost all his family is there. He came for the Intipucá Fest with his sons. Family tree handmade by the protagonist. In red, people who live in the U.S.’ names, and in blue, the ones living in El Salvador. February/ March, 2019. Intipucá, El Salvador.
Omar Blanco’s father in a picture, getting on the plane to the U.S. Intipucá, El Salvador. September, 2017. Detail of the socks of Alfredo Arias, one of the first migrants who undertook the trip to the USA in 1960. March 11, 2019.
View of an American stylish house in Intipucá, El Salvador. September, 2017.
Ludwin Navarrete, 38 years old. His brothers are all in the U.S., but he never desired to move there. He believe in his land and in the work he can do here. Here, he is posing in his farm. Family tree handmade by the protagonist. In red, people who live in the U.S.’ names, and in blue, the ones living in El Salvador. Intipucá, El Salvador. February/ March, 2019.
The name of Intipucá main street is a reference to an ex ambassador of the U.S. in El Salvador. Intipucá, El Salvador. February, 2019.
Propaganda for the FMLM party before the elections. Two empty seats. Intipucá, El Salvador. February, 2019.
Blanca Neri at her house in Intipucá. After living 15 years in the U.S., she decided to go back to Intipucá, to be her “own patrona”. She now run the Icacal Ranch, in the beach, where she try to give job opportunities to young locals. Family tree handmade by the protagonist. In red, people who live in the U.S.’ names, and in blue, the ones living in El Salvador. Intipucá, El Salvador. February/ March, 2019.
Melvin Chavéz, at the high school graduation in Intipucá (left) and inside the Salinas family home in the village (right). Intipucá, El Salvador. March, 2019, and September, 2017.
Hugo Salinas was the first mayor of Intipucá to be openly self-appointed as an homosexual in El Salvador. Propellor of the festivities in Intipucá and in the USA. Family tree handmade by the protagonist. In red, people who live in the U.S.’ names, and in blue, the ones living in El Salvador. Intipucá, El Salvador. March 6, 2019.
Exterior of a traditional house and interior of a new American style one. Intipucá, El Salvador. March, 2019.
Claudia Rivera, doctor at her work in Santiago de María. She is the director of the hospital and went back to El Salvador after growing up in the U.S. Claudia Rivera left Intipucá as a child because of the 1980s war in El Salvador. She began a life in Maryland, Washington, with her parents and brothers, however, after graduating as a doctor and her children grew up she decided to return to El Salvador in order to help the health development of her people. (Right) Family tree handmade by her. In red, people who live in the US’ names, and in blue, the ones living in El Salvador. Santiago de María, El Salvador. February 28, 2019.
Interior of a house in Intipucá, El Salvador. February 7, 2019.
Yaquelin Portillo when she graduated. Picture in her house in Intipucá. She is the actual director of the Cultural House of Intipucá. Family tree handmade by the protagonist. In red, people who live in the US’ names, and in blue, the ones living in El Salvador. February/ March, 2019. Intipucá, El Salvador.
Misses Intipuca from the US before the official act of presentation in Intipuca main square. Intipuca, El Salvador – March 2019.
Ana Nevi, street vendor in the main square of Intipucá during one of the street party in the city, Her brother is in the U.S. and can’t go back because he is undocumented and she can’t access to a visa. Family tree handmade by her. In red, people who live in the US’ names, and in blue, the ones living in El Salvador. Intipucá, El Salvador. March 11, 2019.
A poster at the cultural center of Intipucá promoting the city in spanish and english. Intipucá, El Salvador. February, 2019.