2012 - 2017
A teenage boy sat in a corner of a slum in western Caracas, Venezuela. He wasn’t old enough to drink, or muscular enough to fight. Skinny, with long legs and a pistol in his waist he laughed as he spoke.
- “Why do you carry a gun?”
- “It’s for protection. We sell drugs,” he replied
Guns and drugs had reached him before any other possibility.
He pulled the gun from his waist. Old, used, with the serial erased, the gun was held together only by force of colored rubber bands: pink, yellow, green, metallic gray, matte black.
- “Aren’t you scared?”
- “If anyone here tells you they’re not, they’re lying,” he said laughing
In Venezuela, escalating violence had penetrated every aspect of life. Nothing was left untouched, specially for poor young people. For them, growing up in Venezuela meant growing up in survival mode, enraged, powerless.
The country is now one of the deadliest in the world: with half the population of France, it is estimated that nearly 27,000 people were killed in Venezuela last year, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, a local NGO.
That means that for every hour that goes by, three people get killed.
Paradise Lost started in 2012, documenting the rise of violence in Venezuela. The project is composed by a dozen individual stories that portray violence in a broad spectrum. From everyday encounters, to state brutality, violence and rage has disrupted every dynamic. It has become a collective state of mind.
So, when do you stop being a victim and become a perpetrator?
These stories overlap in time, seamlessly. They clash into one another in a small fraction of time, in a tiny piece of land. Together, they amount to an untenable situation, with a relentless death-toll.