3 years ago, on September 26, 2014, 43 students from the rural school of Ayotzinapa were kidnapped. They were among a larger group of students, all of them traveling together to a protest happening in Mexico City. As of today, they are still missing. In their absence, the number 43 came to represent them as a group. Their names, while still present, have taken a backseat in the discussion of their disappearance. Their identities, who they were, what they wanted, their aspirations, and their dreams, have all been overshadowed as well. Yet, their families and friends continue to struggle to find justice – still believing that their sons, fathers, and friends are alive.
This series of portraits, titled 43, aims to reconnect the number with the names and faces of these young men. Through animation, I capture their likeness and create movement, giving each image a sense of vitality. For each portrait, I try to get to know each student through interviews where their families and friends talk about them. While the information I have is limited, I let what I learn guide my choice of facial expression and movement for each portrait.
While this is in many ways a memorial, I also want to celebrate their life. Much like their families and friends, I want to believe that they are still out there, alive, and hope that someday they will return home. As such, I want to invite you to approach these images as you would a family portrait. Learn their names, spend some time with each one of them, and ask about who and where they are.
Over time, each young man will have their own portrait.