How does one photograph a crisis?
Do you capture the long lines to buy food? Do you focus on the wiry bodies of children? Do you zoom into the eyes of its people desperate for better days?
In Venezuela a monthly salary will barely buy a couple pounds of rice or flour. Some people use the defunct Bolivares notes to make bracelets, purses, and even origami figures.
But what needs to happen for money to stop being money? How does money get stripped of what Marx called its exchange value? And what are these implications for the people of Venezuela?
With these questions in mind I set out to the Venezuelan border to document their exodus. I found a road lined with packs of men, women, and children (so many children), their faces riddled with chagrin, fear, grieve, nostalgia, resignation, and above all uncertainty.
They call themselves “Caminantes,” loosely translated as Walkers or Wayfarers. I joined a group and trekked with them across 200km from Cucuta to Bucaramanga, arguably one of the toughest stretches on the road leaving Venezuela.
After the trip I decided to transfer the images of the Caminantes I had met on the road directly onto the defunct Bolivar currency by using a silver gelatin process. The light sensitive emulsion bonded the images of the migrants to the bills; the very symbol, cause, and consequence of the crisis. The faces on the currency of Bolivar, Miranda, Guicaipuro, Cáceres de Arismendi, Negro Primero… once proudly propping up the richness and success of Venezuela, now seem to look on to a generation ejected from their country by hunger and hopelessness. Similarly, the flora and fauna on the reverse side of the bills now speak of a lavish motherland abandoned by its people.
I hope that this project entitled images will serve to raise questions about the crisis of the Venezuelan people and their need to migrate.