Still Playing With Fire is a photographic series made in Las Cruces, New Mexico, my hometown, which interrogates the violent history of the region and the effects this history has on the people still living there today. By photographing my own family and highlighting key events in our familial history I aim to draw a line from past to present.
Still Playing With Fire is a long term photographic project about my own family and our individual and communal history within Southern New Mexico. Through a pseudo-documentary approach to photographing my family and the land around Las Cruces, NM, I interrogate the generational trauma of my family, and the cycles of violence and suffering that have followed us in context of dominant narratives of white supremacy in Colonial Spain, Imperial Mexico all the way through the current occupation of the land by the United States of America.
Through photography I navigate the loss of family and culture, through the examination of ongoing hardships within my family. Beginning with the death of my paternal grandfather, an enrolled Agua Caliente Cahuilla man, in the 70s after he was shot by Las Cruces Police officers while in custody, to the murder of my uncle in 2019, and through the recent death of my little cousin to overdose. I make this work as a means of tracking, documenting, interpreting and working through the enormous pain that has lived in my people and family for generations and is passed down with every new birth.
Marcus Xavier is a lens based artist from what is currently the Southwestern region of the USA. His work focuses on family, memory and the intersection of class, race and history in the Southwest. He recently returned home to Las Cruces, New Mexico to work as an artist and focus on community engagement and education and currently works with the Picacho Arts District, a community driven arts institution which focus on uplifting and empower the people of Las Cruces, as well as the New Mexico State University Art Museum as a digital marketing specialist with a focus on bringing community groups that have not typically been included in institutional settings within the art world.
In 2020 he founded the Cristian Anthony Vallejo Memorial Gallery at the Garcia Building in Las Cruces. Dedicated to his late little cousin, the gallery aims to create a space for artists whose work drives cultural and communal conversation that goes beyond art for the sake of art to generate real change on a communal level. Beginning in 2021 the CAV Gallery will hold exhibitions and host artists, as part of the Barrio Mezquite Artist Residency Program, which focuses on providing emerging artists with work space and the means to create professional level marketing materials to promote their practice, such as photographs, videos and web services.