Since April of 2002, Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu has been documenting the physical and mental boundaries of young Puerto Rican women and their families living on 103rd Street in Spanish Harlem. Her series, Life on the Block, discusses how the women of these families provide an inner compass to explore the challenges of life and their quest for empowerment as well as their desire and inability to brake a cycle of mere survival.
There is a hardness that characterizes these streets, and innocence dies young. This community has a high rate of unemployment-three times the New York City average. The family income is based on public assistance and often supplemented by the underground economy of the street; the sale of drugs and other illegal activities that commonly lead to detention, prison, and death.
Fathers and brothers are often absent from the family unit. Girls reaffirm their existence through maternity and drop out of high school to become mothers at an early age. These strong young women of the block represent the potential elements of change in this society. Women are the pillars of the community. These women often choose to be somebody in their block rather than nobody in a promising new horizon. To break that lifestyle is almost a betrayal to their roots and their people. Many families in these communities live under the same values and circumstances, a pattern of existence they jokingly call “the ghetto life.”
This series is an intense look at their roles as women in a machista culture, as latinas in a white society, and as mothers of the upcoming American generations.
Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and Barcelona, Spain where she was born. She was the recipient of the National Press Photographers Association Nikon Sabbatical Grant in 2006. This is Sanfeliu's first solo exhibition at RSG.