The Light of the Beast
BEYOND THE STREETS Publishing is pleased to announce The Light of the Beast, an expanded 2023 version of the acclaimed book originally released in 2020 by multidisciplinary artist Pablo Allison – featuring extra graffiti-related content, with 100 new and never-before-seen additional images.
The Light of the Beast is the culmination of six years of work documenting migrants traveling from Central America, through Mexico and into the United States as a final destination. Since 2007, British/Mexican artist Pablo Allison has tried to understand life and its intricacies by documenting migration and its consequences. What started off as a series of illegal voyages on freight trains in Mexico, with no clear destination, resulted in photographing people escaping extreme violence and poverty.
Allison’s photographic work on The Beast (the freight train commonly known to migrants that carries goods between Mexico, the United States and Canada) put him in extremely precarious situations that migrants face daily. In 2018, he was intercepted by armed freight train criminals who robbed him at gunpoint. The following year, he was detained and imprisoned by ICE agents. Spending almost a month in an ICE facility in Tacoma, Washington, he was able to further document the obstacles and hardships faced by migrants as they make their way towards a perceived life of freedom.
The Light of the Beast contains an essay by Allison, in addition to words by Guatemalan migrant and activist David Vazquez and an afterword by Mexican Human Rights activist Claudia S. Leon.
About his experience documenting the migrant journey, Author Pablo Allison shares, “After my first experience of accompanying people seeking a better life, I realized that it was important for me to record it and expose it. I don’t want to make a specific statement other than presenting fragments of a perilous journey thousands of people take every year to reach the USA, hoping to live a better existence. My inspiration to continue with this project has been stimulated by the enormous admiration I have for people who want to better themselves in this world full of hardship. I have learned to appreciate the smaller things in life and I am striving to be a better person every day, even though it’s not always easy to move forward.”
The Universal Language of Graffiti
When I stumbled across the first printing of The Light of the Beast, I liked it so much that I ordered several copies to give to friends as soon as I got home. Sayre Gomez shared it with me in his studio and we geeked out over this self-published collection made by someone neither of us knew. Everyone I gifted the book to was equally blown away. I bought a few more copies and then the next time I checked it was out of print. The website was in Spanish and I couldn’t find much more about the project.
I was of course aware of the issues of migration and immigration in a peripheral way, and while my interest in and definition of graffiti as writing one’s name over and over again hasn’t ever really been political, these images moved me and everyone else who got to see them. The faces, the slices of day-to-day life of people living in constant motion brings it all home in a way that news headlines never do.
As someone with a great interest in freight train graffiti – from monikers to aerosols, of course, this aspect fascinated me, too. I contacted Pablo Allison about reprinting the book and it turned out he had extra graffiti-related content, which was a bonus! The quality of these pieces mixed with bright juicy bubble letters looking so lighthearted while bearing such heavy words is mind-bending. They are missives on the sides of trains, letters to the world. Now you hold them in your hands. I’m glad to assist in getting these messages and images out into the world at a time when they are needed.
- Roger Gastman
The Light of the Beast is published by BEYOND THE STREETS and will be available for purchase online and in-store at the BEYOND THE STREETS Gallery & Gift Shop on Tuesday, October 10, 2023.