Ojalá nos encontremos en el mar

Gabriella N. Báez

2018 - Ongoing

Puerto Rico

The dead of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico carry a loud silence. The official death toll on the island is at 64, but on the streets you can hear stories of friends and family members who have died of direct consequences of the hurricane and have not been counted. In May 2018 the Harvard School of Public Health published a study that estimated the death toll of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico to be at least 70 times larger than the official report, calculating approximately 4,645 excess deaths from September 20 through December 31, 2017. However, the toll continues to grow.

My father is one of the victims of the disaster.

As the one year anniversary of the hurricane approaches, the number of suicides is increasing, yet these bodies are not being counted as a direct consequence of the hurricane. The collective trauma of the negligent response of both the federal and local government during the aftermath of María is being reflected by the quickly deteriorating mental health of the general population. There is an ongoing mental health crisis that is not being attended to, rather it is being ignored, erased, invisibilized, and especially, it is being depoliticized.

In this ongoing documentary project I am exploring official discourses, personal narrative, and memory building.

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  • My father passed away a couple of months after the hurricane. However, his death, like those of many others, has not been acknowledged as a direct consequence of the hurricane. To honor and remember him, and visibilize the situation on the island, I have started this photographic project.
    As a jump start to this project, I began documenting his personal belongings that were given to me after his funeral and the photographic archives he left behind.


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