Introduction by Jonathan Hursch
Designed by Roxane Zargham
Substructure confronts the viewer with stories of exhaustion, pain, expectation, and
hope. They are the stories of the lives that you and I could have easily been born into.
CYJO’s constant and inspiring passion to tell stories shines through where her portraits illustrate the indominable spirit of youth to succeed whatever the odds, that life is more dangerous for us when we are poor; and they also counteract the oft-stated argument that people don’t care about others and their environment until they are post survival mode. They are our stories.
The world population doubled in just 30 years during the last century, and 90% of the population growth and movement in the coming years will be into the migrant slums of developing nations. Migration is a global phenomenon, an issue of which China is at the forefront if you look at the numbers. Currently, 1 in 6 people in the world live in migrant slums, and it is predicted that within a few decades, that number will grow to 1 in 3. If this is true, the world as we know it will change drastically. This is why I believe that migrant slums are the global issue of the 21st century. The competition for resources such as energy and water and sanity will be tightly focused on the urban centers where great effort will be needed to live together harmoniously.
Migrant slums are a more recent phenomenon in the history of the world. The mega cities in
developing countries and their slums grew quickly in the second half of the twentieth century,
largely sharing a common trajectory of slow growth and then rapid acceleration in the 1950s
and 1960s. This tremendous transfer of humanity and poverty from the countryside was prevented in the early part of the century by political, economic, and social barriers. Though
these barriers remain today in many cases, the edges have softened enough to allow movement to happen. In China alone, another half billion more will become migrants over the next few decades.ii This is a trend with tremendous implications to our societies.
The story is being repeated throughout the world in cities like Mumbai, Dhaka, Sao Paulo,
Istanbul, Beijing, Kathmandu, and Jakarta where migrant families have come from the poor
countryside to the cities in search of a better life. However, what they find is far from what they had imagined. Migrant children and their families often lack access to quality education, basic healthcare, and a stable place to live. Inevitably, children pay the highest price and are at risk of falling through the cracks of the system as they have limited access to education, no support network in their new city and parents who are working long hours every day. We have an excellent opportunity today to cultivate and nurture our children’s future at a time when resources are becoming more accessible in the world than ever before. The key issue of migrant slums revolves around inclusion, inclusion into our systems, our communities, and our lives.