I have been working in the American Southwest for nearly 40 years. In 2004 I came across something I hadn’t seen before: a blue barrel with a plain blue flag on a pole, with “agua” written on the side and several gallons of water inside. I photographed it because it was so unexpected, and it haunted me.
In 2009—as I became aware of an increase in the building of walls and surveillance towers and other government activities along the 1,954-mile-long U.S. border with Mexico—I began photographing in earnest. That’s also when I discovered that the original barrel was a water station placed by a humanitarian group to help prevent the dehydration and death of migrants crossing the border.
The way I have always worked is by focusing on the landscape. Rarely do my images represent people, yet their passage is always felt. The presence of absence.