Latin American Fotografia: Antonio Pulgarin

By David Schonauer   Wednesday May 20, 2015

“I see Colombia as more than just one face, more than just a headline and more than just a stereotype,” writes photographer Antonio Pulgarin.

Born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Pulgarin says having a dual cultural identity allows him to look at Colombia with a unique perspective, which he has done in his series “Calle 4 Sur.” In it, Pulgarin attempts to dispel media stereotypes about the country.

“For years, I grew up seeing sensational headlines about Colombia—headlines that usually centered on violence and drug trafficking,” he says. “I wanted to celebrate the culture and the people all while addressing the political issues that have impacted the country.”

That he did in a photograph titled “Amigas in Black,” a portrait of two young women he made at a college campus in Ibague, Colombia. He tells the story behind the photo:

The image was taken as the student body prepared for a massive protest rally that was to start on campus and then take to the streets of Ibague. My cousin was a student at this particular university and was able to take me on a tour of the campus. I met a variety of students that day, and the one thread that seemingly tied them all together was their concern for the country's future, from a political, economical, and moral standpoint. That day two girls in particular caught my eye. As some protestors readied themselves by painting their bodies (donning the colors of the Colombian flag). these young women could be seen behind a spiral concrete staircase adjusting their respective black dresses. For whatever reason, the sight intrigued me so much that I approached them in conversation. I learned that the black dresses were a political statement of sorts, the black a reference to the typical attire one would wear at a funeral/wake, and on that day they were mourning the political state of the country.

Pulgarin says the photo represents how he views Colombia. “There is a history of strength and resilience that can be seen in Colombianos,” he says.

Pulgarin’s photograph was named a winner of the Latin American Fotografia 3  competition. He also earned a spot among the winners of the LAF 2  contest with a very different image—a portrait of mother that was also a portrait of himself.

His ongoing “Calle 4 Sur” project looks at Colombians from many walks of life. He has photographed those from an older generation who have come through Colombia’s long civil war and a younger generation dealing with the conflict now and hoping to find a solution to the violence. “Ultimately as a visual artist I want to capture the Colombian Narrative through my photographs,” he says.

Pulgarin was recently selected to take part in FotoVisura’s GUILD initiative and has been curating a book project called Visual Manifestos spotlighting work from both emerging and established photographic artists. “I can't divulge too much about the project now, but I can say that it features two past winners of Latin American Fotografia,” he says.


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Dispatches from Latin America