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Charles Mostoller July 17, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Venezuela.
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Demonstration celebrating the Ninth anniversary of Chavez’s return to power. Caracas,  2011.

Charles Mostoller  (b. 1986, USA) is a freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York, and attended the 25th Eddie Adams Workshop in 2012. His work has been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, The Miami Herald, Mother Jones, MSNBC and The Guardian, Charles is a contributor to Reuters, and has worked with ZUMA Press and SIPA Presss in the past. He is currently working on a book of his work from Venezuela.

About the Photograph:

“In the spring of 2011, I traveled to Venezuela for the first time to explore the political situation, not knowing at the time that I would be covering some of President Hugo Chavez’ last public appearances before undergoing treatment for cancer in Cuba. This photograph was taken on the ninth anniversary of the failed 2002 coup attempt against Chavez. Tens of thousands of people, including thousands of citizen militiamen and women, flocked to the capital Caracas to celebrate the Chavista movement, known as the Bolivarian Revolution. The framed portrait depicts Simon Bolivar, considered the Liberator for his role in South American independence movements in the early 1800’s and the intellectual cornerstone of Hugo Chavez’s socialist regime.”

Troi Anderson September 5, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Venezuela.
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Healing Ceremony, Mount Sorte, Yaracuy State, Venezuela 2012

Troi Anderson (b.1975, USA) is a fine art, documentary and commercial photographer based in Portland, Oregon. Troi began his career working in film for Magnolia Pictures and later as a Merchant Marine sailing throughout Asia and the South Pacific. He is the author of two books, Shadows of Time and Decay (Mark Batty Publishers) along with numerous photographic essays. His work has been published in Geo France, The Oregonian, Communication Arts, Eyemazing, as well as being profiled and featured twice in Black and White Magazine. His commercial clients include Apple, Nike, HP, and  T-Mobile. He has worked for the humanitarian organization CARE in Haiti. Troi’s photography has been exhibited in the Blue Sky Drawers program, as well as being held in private collections.

About the Photograph:

“Espiritismo, the practice of communication with ancestral spirits through trance possession is found throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. In Venezuela, a mythological goddess figure of ancient indigenous legend -Maria Lionza- is the focal point for gatherings in the mist-laden jungle of Mount Sorte. This magico-religious movement is composed in perfect reflection of Venezuela’s own multicultural history. It is a syncretic, mestizo blending of African, Spanish and Indian traditions and beliefs. Theatrical healing ceremonies and colorful pageantry blend wildly to bring forth a knowledge of the esoteric passed down through spiritual caravans, pilgrims, known as the Marialionceras.”

“For the past several years I have embarked on a process to discover and document the religious desire and its elemental expressions throughout the world. This photograph focuses on a group of Marialionceras, who have gathered before a makeshift alter in contemplation and to pay tribute to Venezuela’s national heroes, Simon Bolivar, Jose Antonio Paez and Francisco de Miranda. One of the key elements in the practice of Maria Lionza is the smoking of the cigar. It is both an invitation to the spirits, as well a method to invoke introspection in the participant. There are dozens of these alters throughout the jungle, each created for a specific spirit or power. Before President Hugo Chavez died, I was told by many at this pilgrimage that ‘if he dies, then his Spirit will be here next. It was rumored that Chavez, himself a follower of Maria Lionza, had dug up the bones of Latin America’s great liberator, Simon Bolivar, and was using them in his own magical ceremonies.”

Mathieu Asselin August 3, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Venezuela.
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La Puerta de Caracas, Venezuela 2009

Mathieu Asselin (b.1973, France) began working with the acknowledged film director Alfredo Anzola at the age of 16 in Venezuela. Five years later he moved to Europe and joined the French photo agency L’ Oeil du Sud. In 2005, Mathieu relocated to New York City and established himself as a commercial photographer. His pictures have been published in various international corporate and editorial magazines, as well as in advertising campaigns. His publication credits include: The New Yorker , GEO Germany, Paris Match, Le Monde among others. His exhibitions and awards include: Grand Prize One Life Photography Award, Hacienda la Trinidad Gallery, Caracas, Venezuela and the Sony World Photography Awards.

About the Photograph:

“Thanks to my fixer, I was at the right place and had complete freedom to explore the area. I was looking forward to a long day of shooting in this poor neighborhood but couldn’t find the picture I had in mind. I felt like I was missing an opportunity. This photo happened at the last moment. I was about to leave feeling  discouraged, thinking to myself that I had missed my chance. Suddenly this guy appeared on a horse. Everything immediately made sense: the clash of a modern city and the rural area mixed at the same place. I believe this picture explains the history of these Favelas- the poor from the countryside migrating and adapting to the modern city. It reminds me the paintings of the Venezuelan independence battles in the schoolbooks I grew up with. To me it almost feels like a biblical image, transforming into an icon the everyday Venezuelan.”

Lurdes R. Basolí August 3, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Venezuela.
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Caracas, Venezuela 2009

Lurdes R. Basolí (b. 1981, Spain) is a freelance photographer currently based in Barcelona. She has a BA in audiovisual communication from Universitat Ramon Llull, and post-graduate degree in photojournalism from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Lurdes began her professional career in 2005, working for Spanish and American magazines. She later became involved with her own documentary photography projects. Her long-term project about violence in Caracas received the FotoPres’09 grant and was selected in Descubrimientos PhotoEspaña 2008. The work has been part of both individual and group exhibitions, such as the Noorderlicht photo festival in 2009, and received the Inge Morath Magnum Foundation award in 2010.

About the Photograph:

“When I took this picture I didn’t know yet that the story would become a long-term and personal project. I was starting to investigate and document the violence in Caracas, the most dangerous capital city of Latin America. In 2009 there were 19,133 homicides in the country, four times more than in Iraq that same year. Many factors allow this situation to continue. Violence has become a lifestyle between young kids that grow up on the streets of the barrios. Killing each other is the way they solve their problems. In this photograph, the dead man is Johan Manuel Escalona, aged 25, who was shot five times when getting out of a taxi. His friend was killed too. They returned home from partying early in the morning and the murderers were waiting for them, to “solve” the problems they had. In the image, Johan’s brother swears revenge. That night 20 people were killed in Caracas.”

Meridith Kohut August 6, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Venezuela.
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A follower of Maria Lionza enters a trance. Venezuela 2009

Editor’s Note: For the next two weeks I will be taking a break from my computer screen but promise to be back on August 23rd with more great images. I want to thank all of you who have generously shared your work, and helped create what has now become a community that includes picture editors, designers and curators as well as professional photographers. Those of you who appreciate the effort involved in maintaining this blog, please consider making a donation.

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Meridith Kohut (b.1983, USA) is a freelance photographer based in Caracas, Venezuela, where she works covering Latin America for editorial and corporate clients. She is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Journalism and former first assistant to Eli Reed of Magnum Photos. Her images have been published by The New York Times, The United Nations, TIME magazine, Newsweek International, The Washington Post Magazine and have been exhibited in galleries throughout Latin America, Europe and The United States. In between assignments and travels, Kohut may be found roaming the streets with her Leica, up to her elbows in fixer in the darkroom or working with NGO’s to teach photography to disadvantaged youths in the slums Caracas.

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken as part of a reportage for The New York Times covering the annual María Lionza pilgrimage to Sorte Mountain in Yaracuy, Venezuela. Each October, beginning on Venezuela’s Day of Indigenous Resistance, thousands of Marialionceros flock to the remote mountain to perform rituals and pay respect to María Lionza and a pantheon of diverse saints and spirits. Devotees chant to drumbeats, smoke tobacco, and construct shrines of figurines, fruit and multi-colored candles. They draw elaborate chalk designs on the ground, and lie within them in effort to receive cleansing and channel the souls of the saints. Once possessed, followers talk in tongues and their bodies shake and writhe, which they say leads to the healing or wisdom that they seek. Some devotees cut their faces with razor blades while others walk barefoot on burning coals to show their devotion.

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Andrew Cutraro July 16, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Venezuela.
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President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela

Andrew Cutraro is a freelance photojournalist based in Washington, D.C. He is represented by the Aurora Photo Agency. He is the recipient of numerous industry awards and photo exhibitions. Cutraro’s work has been published in Newsweek, Harper’s, Life, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. A Native of Milwaukee, he studied documentary photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Western Kentucky University. Most recently, as a staff photographer for seven years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he was assigned to the paper’s special projects team that covered stories across the U.S. as well as in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Israel, Gaza, and Vietnam.

About the Photograph:

“President Hugo Chavez will no doubt be remembered as one of the great icons of our time. He is great to photograph because he is wildly charismatic, charming, and most importantly for a photographer: totally comfortable with himself. I made this photograph during a four-hours-long news conference at the presidential palace, Miraflores. Chavez is notorious for his long speeches. Reporters at the event regularly left the news conference for smoke breaks while the president was talking. I have seen Castro speak for hours too, but Chavez is different. He is more entertaining, engaging, and aware. He is an incredibly gifted orator. You don’t even need to speak Spanish to be drawn in to his gravity and presence. Moments before this photograph was taken, I was in a brawl with thieves on the subway platform outside the palace. Caracas is a wonderfully strange place.”

Scott Dalton May 15, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Venezuela.
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dalton_colombia.jpg
Caracas, Venezuela

Scott Dalton is an award-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker based in Bogotá, Colombia, where he has covered the civil conflict and drug war for the past eight years. His photography has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, the Washington Post Magazine, and The New Yorker, among other outlets. His documentary film La Sierra (2005) won numerous awards and was broadcast by PBS, BBC, HBO Latino, and many other international broadcasters. Scott is a member of Metro Photo Collective.

About the Photograph:

The above photograph is part of series made in the barrios of Caracas while I was there covering the presidential elections in December 2006

Jan Sochor April 9, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Colombia, Venezuela.
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sochor_contraband.jpg
Contraband Smugglers. Colombia/ Venezuela Frontier

Jan Sochor was born in the Czech Republic. He has lived and worked in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Spain during the past five years. His long term projects focus on the daily life, social, political and cultural issues in Latin America. Jan’s photographs have appeared in numerous Czech publications including Reflex Magazine, National Geographic CZ, Instinkt and Hospodarske Noviny.

About the Photograph:

Along the 2200 kilometres borderline between Colombia and Venezuela cheap gasoline and food flows into Colombia, cocaine and arms go the other way. It is virtually impossible to control. The flow of contraband on this frontier is managed and organized by illegal Colombian paramilitary forces (AUC) and bribed Venezuelan police (Guardia Nacional). Smuggling provides a living to hundreds of poor dwellers in communities on both sides of the frontier.

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