“Yonkeros” is a vernacular term for businesses that strip wrecked cars and sell them as scrap metal or for parts. The word is a Spanglish derivative of “junk”, conjugated grammatically to refer to people who engage in this line of work.
Yonkeros is a lyrical exploration of first world consumerism, waste, and obsolescence as they intersect with third world ingenuity and survivalist strategies in the no-man’s-land of Willets Point, Queens.
When I frist arrived in the area in the Spring of 2010 the mechanics were locked in a fierce legal battle with New York City to protect their livelihood. Unfortunately, it was ultimately the City which prevailed; the process of dismantling Willets Point to redevelop it as the newest iteration of New York’s Next Big Neighborhood has begun.
Nonetheless, the spirit of Willets Point and its mechanics will continue to abide and endure in these photographs. I knew Willets Point as a vast inventory of parts, and like all catalogues it was also a poem.