Carolina Navas

They Are Watching Us

About the project
The Citadel
El Wey
Pablo Chaco
José María
Pablo Chaco

José María

About the project

Carolina Navas, Colombia

I have been interested in portraying the young people who live in Tumaco ―a rural area on the Colombian Pacific coast― and yet are influenced by the eclecticism of the globalized world. These young people’s existence serves as a metaphor for adversity, as does the geography they inhabit, where marginalization coexists with beauty and hope.

These pictures were taken in one of the regions with the greatest prevalence of coca plantations in Colombia. It is also an important transportation hub for cocaine to other parts of the world. The town’s geographical location, as well as its residents’ low incomes, their lack of access to education, and a deficient healthcare system are factors that have led to the rise of armed guerrilla groups, violence, and drug-trafficking, whose victims are most often young men. The town is currently a refuge for dissident guerrilla groups that used to form part of the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

They Are Watching Us is a series that explores the identity and context of teenagers who survive in the unpredictable context of one of the regions most affected by armed conflict. They are young dancers and musicians who challenge with dignity what would seem to be their fate: being drafted into the war or forced to join criminal gangs, owing to the widespread belief that they have no other opportunities in life.

Carolina Navas

(b. 1978) Cali, Colombia

Portraiture is the central theme in the work of Carolina Navas, which highlights the singularity of human faces, as well as the objects and clothing that surround the body. Navas has directed documentary series for Colombian public television and produced still photographs for the feature films Los Hongos (2014), La Sirga (2012), and Calicalabozo (1997). Her series of photographs Nos miran (They Are Watching Us) was awarded a stimulus grant for the visual arts by the city of Cali in 2017. She is the author of Tumaco (2018), a volume in the Pewen Cuadernos Fotografía collection published by MUGA. In 2018 she received a Gamleby Photo Grant to complete an artist’s residency in Sweden and premiered Fullhachede, her first feature-length documentary, which she directed and photographed in collaboration with Catalina Torres.

Pablo Chaco, Colombia

“I bear the light so that others won’t stumble,” says José María, a man who has been blind for sixty-eight years. We became friends four years ago when, one afternoon, he allowed me to take his picture. We ended up talking about everything from prophets to the poetry of Jorge Luis Borges, from his dreams to the complexities of living in a world where sighted people are privileged. His blindness is the main subject of this project, which explores the fantasies of a man who does not follow the pace of contemporary life, who stubbornly remains disengaged and wants to feel excluded, willfully playing with clichés of disability. And yet this man continually escapes the confinement that society threatens him with, transforming blindness into a gift that he uses to explore the world and to serve as a guide on a voyage where photography is the tool that shines a light on him, allowing him to step out of the dark.

Pablo Chaco

(b. 1982) Cali, Colombia/ Berlin, Germany

Interested in exploring the possibilities offered by landscape, Pablo Chaco intervenes in both urban and rural settings to give them new meaning, while exploring their transformation and the interactions between space and photography, between natural and artificial light. Chaco was selected to participate in the Festival Internacional de la Imagen in 2015 and the 2nd edition of the Bienal de Muralismo y Arte Público in 2014.

Distorted Portraits was the image selected by Saatchi Art to form part of its collection The Face of Portraiture. Chaco’s work has been included in the online projects Espacio Gaf, Luz del Norte, and Bex Magazine. He is a founding member of the collective Lóbulo Frontal, a Colombian initiative created in 2015, which seeks to analyze the deconstruction of the body/object in everyday spaces.