Latin American Fotografia: Adriana Loureiro

By David Schonauer   Wednesday April 27, 2016

His name was Kluiver Roa, age 14.

In February  of 2015, the middle school student was shot dead by a policeman at an anti-government rally in the western Venezuelan city of San Cristobal. The incident, coming amid an economic downturn and a crackdown on the political opposition after massive protests in 2014, set off weeks of chaos in the region.

“There were very few journalists in the city at the time and, due to limitations in communications, the news that travelled to the Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, left a lot of questions in the air, especially concerning the legal consequences that the police officer who killed the boy would face,” says Venezuelan photographer Adriana Loureiro Fernández. Considering the situation, she decided to travel from Caracas, where she is based, to San Cristobal to record what was happening.

Once there, Loureiro found that several hundred students had entrenched themselves at Los Andes University, one of the biggest universities in the city.

“They were determined to stay there until they saw justice done, and they held the place for nearly a month,” Loureiro says. “I travelled there thinking that these events might trigger the same socio-political situation that Venezuela experienced in 2014, but I came to find a whole different panorama: The protesters seemed worn out. It felt as if they knew they were fighting a battle lost from the beginning — a battle against corruption and impunity that has long been a part of politics in Venezuela. I shifted the focus of my work as soon as I got there.”

Rather than simply documenting the unrest, Loureiro wanted to portray what she calls “the internal battle between hope and abandonment.” One of the images she made, titled “Dead End” (above), was later name a winner of the Latin American Fotografia 4 competition.

Loureiro stayed with the protesters at the university for four nights. “The nights there were restless,” she says. “Confrontations between the protesters and different police forces endured continuously for hours. The students slept in 30-minute intervals. The effort seemed very heroic to me but the feeling of hopelessness was still omnipresent. That feeling was the reason behind the title of the image.”

Photographing at night allowed Loureiro to capture the dark mood of the situation, as well as a sense of mystery. “I made a lot of portraits because I felt that the eyes of the protesters held emotions that I could not explain in any other way,” she says. “I shot everything on a Canon 5D Mark II and edited on Photoshop. While editing, I tried to respect the grittiness of the original files.”

Loureiro is currently working on a documentary project called “Paraíso Perdido" (“Lost Paradise”). A selection from that series was featured in LAT PHOTO  magazine. (See images above.) She describes the project here:

Paradise lost is a story about duality, power, impotence, decisions, destinations, hazards, and parallel realities that are in conflict to compose the violent picture of Venezuela. Every image is a separate chapter and simultaneous, which can be a cause or a result of the next. Each one represents a condition, a character and a different idea, although all converge on the same outcome. In particular, this is the story of how Caracas came to be called "the city of the fury".

“I have great expectations regarding its possibilities as a vehicle for mutual understanding and how we all play a role in the construction of our realities,” she says.


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