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Housing over 2,500 squatters on 28 of its 45 floors, the Tower of David is a half-finished structure in Caracas, Venezuela, populated with displaced people. Like the now-vanished Kowloon Walled City or a huge vertical tent city, it is feared by officials and runs by its own rules. Its residents pool resources, including skills and money, to create and maintain independent and communal water supplies, plumbing and power grids.

Even the police are afraid to enter this effectively lawless structure, but through friends one video journalist was given permission to tour and film the facility – you can follow his adventure via the video above.

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burn magazine

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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

Zaida González Ríos

Primera Comunión

play this essay

 

My intention is to critique the traditions and social references of Western culture, as well as use irony in questioning certain canons, such as the idealization of the body in advertising and media, the role of gender, and a consumer based existence due to globalization and individualism in an environment that is marked by an increase in the disposable.

I seek to show something different: that which is not well regarded or accepted, an escape from what we have been taught to “behold and admire.” This is manifested with ordinary models, average people who would not otherwise be photographed for an advertising campaign.

With the inclusion of dead and deformed babies in the photographs, I intend to rescue people that were abandoned without a proper farewell. I want to dignify them, transporting them into a picture, surrounded by objects and symbolism to leave them history so that they do not go unnoticed or ignored. I confront the viewer with the truth, one that weighs on the conscience of agricultural industries, since the indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides every year cause children to be born with and die from physiological and physical deformities. This fact is hidden from society by companies that have economic power in our country.

With the lighting techniques used in the images (black and white pictures painted by hand) and small format, I intend to create a break between the form and substance, softening and dislodging the message.

 

Bio

1977, San Miguel, Santiago de Chile.

Photographer and veterinarian.

Zaida received her degree in commercial photograhy but has since dedicated herself exclusively to personal projects, exhibiting her work in various group and solo exhibitions in Chile.

Her work has been featured internationally in Colombia, Argentina, USA, Belgium, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela, Spain, France, Portugal and Mexico.

She currently teaches photography in the Escuela de Comunicaciones Alpes and works as a freelance veterinarian.

She has authored 3 books to date: “Las Novias de Antonio” (La Revista, 2009), ” Recuérdame al morir con mi último latido” (2010) and “Zaida Gonzalez De Guarda” (2013). Her last two books were published independently with the help of her brother, designer Marco Gonzalez.

She was the recipient of four photography scholarships from Fondart (2005, 2008, 2009 and 2011) and was a resident of fine art photography for Nelson Garrido in Valparaiso (2010).

In 2007 and 2011 she was nominated for the Altazor award for her work “Conservatorio Celestial” and “Recuérdame al morir con mi último latido,” respectively.

In 2012 she won the Rodrigo Rojas De Negri award and national recognition in emerging photography.

In 2013 she was awarded a grant from the DIRAC for a residency she completed with the NGO (Organización Nelson Garrido) in Caracas, Venezuela.

 

Related links

Zaida González Ríos

 

 

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VICE Loves Magnum: An Interview with Christopher Anderson

Magnum is probably the most famous photo agency in the world. Even if you haven’t heard of it, chances are you’re familiar with its images, be they Robert Capa’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War, Steve McCurry’sAfghan Girl or Martin Parr’s very British holiday-scapes. Unlike most agencies, Magnum’s members are selected by the other photographers in the agency, which, given they’re the greatest photo agency in the world, means that becoming a member is a pretty grueling process. As part of an ongoing partnership with Magnum, we will be profiling some of their photographers over the coming weeks.

First up is Christopher Anderson, who became a Magnum nominee in 2005 and was a full member by 2010. His early work on Haitian immigrants’ illegal journey to America—during which he and they sank in the Caribbean Sea in a handmade wooden boat named Believe in God—won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal. And last year, we produced an episode of Picture Perfect about him.

His subsequent book projects include Son, a series of photos capturing his wife and young child as his own father grew ill with cancer, and Capitolio, which documents unrest in Caracas during the time of Chavez.

I had a chat with him about how he sees himself and how that’s changed over his career.


Joe Biden descends from Air Force Two in Virginia, shot for New York Magazine.

VICE: You’ve vocally distanced yourself from photojournalism in the past. Why is that?
Christopher Anderson: 
There are photojournalists in Magnum, but I don’t see it as a photojournalist agency. It’s more founded in documentary photography. If I were to use a term for myself, I feel I’d fit more closely in the bracket of documentary photography than photojournalism. The term photojournalist tends to be loaded with meaning: specifically that one reports the news. I don’t see that as my function. Even when I was photographing things that were news topics, like conflicts, my function was not that of a news reporter, my function was to comment on what I saw happen that day and to offer a subjective point of view. In my role, I was commenting on what was happening, but also trying to communicate what it felt like to be there when it was happening.

So you wanted to capture images that were more emotional and personal?
Exactly. But I would go further and say that I not just wanted to do that, that is in fact what I did do. I had no pretence of objectivity. I was photographing, giving my opinion, and I wanted you to know that I was giving my opinion.

Did your unconventional approach make it initially more difficult to sell your photos, or was it beneficial from the start?
Well, I don’t think I was going ‘round articulating that to editors, saying, “No, I won’t work for you unless you understand that what I do is subjective.” With the agency I was with before, it didn’t make a difference, as I was already sort of working for “journalistic magazines,” and I worked a lot for the New York Times Magazine. The kind of stories that I would do, even ones from conflict zones, would be longer and more in depth in their approach to what was happening there, trying to put what was happening in a more human, intimate context rather than the headlines of the day. But to be honest, the marketable advantage never crossed my mind at the time. I was just intent on trying to do what I did in the way I wanted to with as much integrity as possible.

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In a country where "everything bears his name", the currency, plazas, schools, and political speeches, among others, the Father of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela finally has a tomb in line with...

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“There has never been a shortage of bereaved mothers in the sprawling, violent Caracas barrio known as Catia,” writes correspondent Tim Padgett in last week’s issue of TIME International. Caracas, he notes, usually suffers some 50 homicides a week, making it one of the world’s deadliest capitals. As many as a third of them occur in Catia, where gunmen even use hillside garbage chutes to more efficiently dispose of corpses. Few of the killers are ever prosecuted.

The black-and-white photographs of Oscar B. Castillo, a Caracas-based photojournalist, accompany Padgett’s bleak dispatch. Documenting the violence of the barrio put Castillo at immense risk—from both gang members and the police.

“I felt safer when I was with the gangs than when I hung around the city by myself,” he told TIME. Although never far from the shadow of gratuitous violence, Castillo acknowledges that codes of respect and solidarity run deeply through the community.

“The people took care of me and protected me in risky situations,” he said. “When I told one of the guys involved in gang violence about the story, he told me to talk about their bad situation…to tell the kids that inside gang life, there’s no life at all.”

Castillo began photographing the street gangs of Caracas almost three years ago. Since then, he’s endeavored to use his photography as a way to explain to outsiders the complex layers of life in Catia.

“I would like to share a more complete and sincere vision of this moment in Venezuelan history. I am focused on this because it is my hometown, my country, my family—it is my people that are wounding and killing each other.”

Oscar B. Castillo is a member of the Fractures Photo Collective. View more of his work on FracturesPhoto.com.

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