Marie
       
     
Geographic
       
     
Calexico
       
     
Rick
       
     
02_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
13_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
Kim, Jordan & Nathan
       
     
Tilapia, North Shore
       
     
Jack
       
     
Calipatria
       
     
10_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
Athan James
       
     
Tugboat Willy
       
     
Imperial Fault
       
     
05_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
16_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
17_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
Martin & Ronda
       
     
Mecca
       
     
Wa's Place
       
     
Signal Mountain
       
     
Camp
       
     
Charlie's Place (East Jesus)
       
     
Dorothy
       
     
Linda
       
     
Reading Room, Slab City Library
       
     
The All American
       
     
Leonard and his Ark
       
     
28_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
New Years Day, Niland.
       
     
Tony the Vet
       
     
New Gold
       
     
untitled
       
     
32.jpg
       
     
Marie
       
     
Marie

The All American Canal meanders along the border for about 80 miles before reaching the spot I chose to watch the extraordinary pre-dawn light. I’ve paused to make a picture while searching for it's end; which is somewhere west of Calexico where channels deliver water deep into Imperial County farmland.

Nearby there is a bridge, and next to it a line of tires bolted together and attached to a chain; an apparatus used to smooth out the fine gravel of the road that runs alongside the canal so that new footprints can be seen by the Border Patrol. A man in a small pickup truck nods as he passes, then circles back to where he came from, only to return again a little while later. He is looking for someone, perhaps a solo (migrant) or a sign from a coyote (human smuggler) on the other side of the water. For the next few minutes I scramble to record the massive Rorschach test created by the scattered clouds against the rising sun.

With wages 10 times higher on the north side of the canal than the south, the draw to migrate is powerful, and along with bringing life to the southern California desert, the All American also brings death. Later in the day I would learn about the frequent drownings of people trying to enter the US by swimming the canal, and of their burial in a paupers cemetery 20 miles north of the border.

There is also a southern migration whose paths lead to Imperial; a migration of middle class explorers, retired pensioners, hippies, dreamers and rubber-punks. Like many of them, I was drawn there by curiosity about the kinds of psychological spaces and physical geographies people navigate to create a sense of place, value and community in such a difficult landscape. 

Geographic
       
     
Geographic
Calexico
       
     
Calexico
Rick
       
     
Rick
02_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
13_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
Kim, Jordan & Nathan
       
     
Kim, Jordan & Nathan
Tilapia, North Shore
       
     
Tilapia, North Shore
Jack
       
     
Jack
Calipatria
       
     
Calipatria
10_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
Athan James
       
     
Athan James
Tugboat Willy
       
     
Tugboat Willy
Imperial Fault
       
     
Imperial Fault
05_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
16_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
17_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
Martin & Ronda
       
     
Martin & Ronda
Mecca
       
     
Mecca
Wa's Place
       
     
Wa's Place
Signal Mountain
       
     
Signal Mountain
Camp
       
     
Camp
Charlie's Place (East Jesus)
       
     
Charlie's Place (East Jesus)
Dorothy
       
     
Dorothy
Linda
       
     
Linda
Reading Room, Slab City Library
       
     
Reading Room, Slab City Library
The All American
       
     
The All American


Leonard and his Ark
       
     
Leonard and his Ark
28_MattGainer_Imperial.jpg
       
     
New Years Day, Niland.
       
     
New Years Day, Niland.
Tony the Vet
       
     
Tony the Vet
New Gold
       
     
New Gold
untitled
       
     
untitled
32.jpg