The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca

The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca reflects on the resilience of peoples in contexts of drug trafficking and fishing. The beach line connects the sea (or river) with the continent (or mainland) where amphibious communities inhabit with long traditions of music, dance, hairstyles, games and celebration. Also of agriculture, gastronomy, tourism, whale watching and nature. This peace is permeated by paramilitary presence, violence and drug trafficking.

Drug traffickers need access to the coast to get their product out to sea. During these trips in speedboats, they are intercepted by the Colombian Navy or naval force, and their way of escaping is to drop the cargo to make the boat lighter. For a kilo of cocaine, for example, some fishermen from towns such as Rincón del Mar in the Atlantic, or Bahía Solano in the Pacific, instead of continuing with the quiet life they have traditionally had, occasionally prefer to run the risk of taking a load that floats in the sea to build the second floor of their house; to buy a multi-horse engine; or to have a fancy party that lasts more than a week. Some succumb to this pressure; others stand firm in the face of the onslaught of illegality. Such macabre characters as Pablo Escobar or "Cadena" reigned in these lands and conditioned the daily life and rules of the community.

The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca is a participatory and intervention project in which the community is an active part in the creation of the images. The contrasts between traditions (peaceful or peaceful states) and armed pressure (paramilitary and drug trafficking groups) are expressed in different actions, landscapes, bodies and objects. Everyday life intermingles with the construction of the scenes. Here, the performative act is confused with the swaying of reality, as a song to that undefined limit between sea and land, between legality and prohibition.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - a fish child opens its mouth seeking to feed. Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.
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a fish child opens its mouth seeking to feed. Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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A few steps away from the shoreline, there was a ranch covered by a polyshade cloth that protected from the sun. Although the undulations and strength of the sea were within reach to be photographed, I found it more interesting to abstract the idea and think about the changing volatility of the wind over a textile body like this. For several years, it has been a recurring practice in my work to use polyshade or fabrics in clear allusion to Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The idea of covering not only speaks of protecting oneself but also of hiding. Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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A baitless hook means that this time, the fish did not die by its mouth. It will have a second chance. Río Tame, Arauca. 2016.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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The saint San Gregorio, patron saint of the seas, and printed dummies of Pablo Escobar, called by many "patron saint of the poor" and "terror of the Establishment", wait on a log-coral on the shore of Isla Palma. Isla Palma, Bolívar. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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Orange metallic fabric to create a space out of context and highlight the muscles on the back and magnifying glasses, like fish eyes. Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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Colorful architecture in the town. Color is not just a layer of paint that highlights the urban landscape, it is also a way to express joy. In Rincón del Mar, Sucre, it is common to stroll through the town and come across colorful facades loaded with details. In this case, a shadow -or malignant presence- seems to want to enter the house. In the first decade of this century, between 2000 and 2010, the inhabitants had to close their doors to these unwelcome presences. Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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A fighting cock is ready for battle! Cockfighting in Colombia is currently being debated in the Congress of the Republic, just like sport fishing. For a part of the population, they are considered violent practices that must be eradicated. For others, they are part of their tradition and way of having fun. This photo represents that limit state between one position and the other: caress and attack! Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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We were trying to sail with a shrimp boat with a metallic sheet as a synonym for the impossibility of movement in the water, with such bad luck that we sank. It couldn't have been better! The boat sank in the high seas, and its shape resembled the humpback whales that visit the Pacific Ocean in front of the coasts of Bahía Solano to give birth to their calves. I consider error and drift as a fundamental part of my work to go against the longing for what we believe is "perfection." Isla Palma, Bolívar. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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The toad is the one that sings and dies. It's better to opt for silence. This photograph that I took of Esteban in Bahía Solano in 2018 while he smoked and looked towards the stars, I printed it in a stationary shop in Sincelejo, Sucre. The different layers of substrate and representation seek the play of scale in space, characteristics of materials and symbolism. In this case, I left the photograph in a bucket of water for a couple of hours, to my surprise, then finding a toad taking a nocturnal bath. Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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Some of the medium format photographs are printed and plates are burned to experiment with the inks (CMYK color changes) and the "fish eyes" (which are dirty between the ink and the roller). Metallic plates, ink remnants and emulsions are intervened. They are re-photographed. Details are taken from the rollers, plates and machines. Thus, the plates, the successes and mistakes become part of the work as a symbol of the collective creation process. Bahía Solano, Chocó. 2018.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - A fish drawn with dry leaves as a puzzle. Río Tame, Arauca. 2016.
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A fish drawn with dry leaves as a puzzle. Río Tame, Arauca. 2016.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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A man-fish, a fish-human. This image summarizes the project "The Fish Dies By Its Mouth": fear, staying silent, covering identity. At the same time, the representation of the human and the animal. I made it thanks to chance: the boatman was taking off his neckerchief to take a dip, and in that intermediate between the neck and the sky, a face similar to the photo was formed. I recomposed the scene and the background to get this photo that can summarize the project. Río Tame, Arauca. 2016.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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The fisherman wields a coral. It's a weapon! Again, play and laughter resulted in this photo. We were visiting Isla Palma and stopped on an islet in the middle of the sea to build a wall of bricks covered with plastic, when my friend Federico wielded a coral and pointed it at me. I laughed... There, I understood that violent gestures are normalized since childhood, but in a context of violence and presence of drug trafficking, being pointed at with a weapon is no cause for joy. It's pure fear! Isla Palma, Bolívar. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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In front of the tombstone, a flower pays tribute to the victims of drug violence. After a lunch of fried fish with patacones and coconut rice, the leftover food had the shape of a cross forming a grave. A pray. Río Tame, Arauca. 2016.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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The shipment of cocaine stacked on the seashore waiting to be picked up by a speedboat. This was one of the interventions that required the most preparation and complexity, because we had to get the bricks, get a boat that could support the weight and transport the load to the island far from the beach line. We had several accidents due to the waves that sometimes hit with force, diverting the improvised wall: several bricks were broken, and some rubber bands were lost… Isla Palma, Bolívar. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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The series "Narcos" and "El Patrón del Mal" are seen in all latitudes, even on a deserted island. TV series serve as entertainment on rainy or leisure days. The stories seen there do not differ much from what happens in town when there is territorial control by gangs and mafia bosses. Isla Palma, Bolívar. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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Instax's double-exposures of islets in Cabo Marzo, Bahía Solano. As a Fujifilm X-Photographer in Colombia for several years, I took advantage of the equipment to make my work. While we anchored (floating at a specific point while fishing) and looked towards the islets visited by pelicans, I imagined the conjunction or dialogue between rock and sea. I photographed the islet and then calculated -and photographed- the horizon of the sea in the center of the viewfinder: each photo was a single opportunity. There was no turning back! Cabo Marzo, Chocó. 2018.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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An octopus emerges to the surface to observe the trafficking events at night. Hairstyles are a tradition and ancestral knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Girls, especially, learn from an early age to comb their little sisters. In the end, it's a help to mothers and older sisters in their daily tasks and a way of expression. Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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The formation of small boats upon returning from a fishing trip. I had this structure of small boats in mind a year before I made it. As I said, my work has a special interest in architecture and sculpture. Urban and landscape interventions, such as in this case, rely on imagination. Imagination emerges as a vital aid in the construction of images by evoking metaphors, combining techniques and modes of visualization. The exercise allows us to project the illusion of achieving what we propose, from small to big; from representation to reality; from symbol to object; from individual to collective memory. Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.

© Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo - Image from the The Fish Dies By Its Mouth / El pez muere por la boca photography project
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In the image, my childhood friend Federico Martínez represents a nautical flag with his strokes while demonstrating his great ability to free dive. The divers from Rincón del Mar are considered the best for their great capacity to hold their breath and resistance without the aid of equipment or oxygen tanks. Behind him, Deivis Vecino Altamar, my other great friend, extends his arms. He does not like the sea. The animations of the photographs are video versions that I am experimenting with to expand the narratives of the project and its installation in space. Rincón del Mar, Sucre. 2021.