There isn’t

There isn’t is a personal essay about scarcity in Venezuela from my personal point of view.

I remember an advertisement that was widely welcome in Venezuela a few decades ago and that somehow summed up a milestone of our social imaginary: abundance and oil boom ( “that’s cheap give me two”). I’m talking about the “Yes there is” by Polar (a popular publicity slogan by this even more popular local beer brand). In that publicity, signs we were hanged in almost every commercial establishment (“Yes there is”) and we were invited to consume a product. Is that advertising that inspires the title of this series, assuming that now the word “No”/”There isn’t” summarizes a new social imaginary that revolves around scarcity in Venezuela.

I try to explore through photography the theme of Naturalization [1] or assimilation of a speech to the practices and beliefs that are within the social consciousness. I understand the picture as a document with political and social implications able to shake the imaginaries of any society through the generation of senses and meanings. Within this perspective, our social consciousness is structured in the relations of sense and meaning embedded in the symbolic universe of the communities with whom we interact. That perception of the symbolic transcends the internalization of cultural norms towards understanding worlds of meaning and significant “imaginaries”.

The Naturalization of “no”/”The isn’t” in our imagination then, is the specific topic that catches my attention in this modest series of documentary photographs I captured with my phone over 2012-2014.Topic which I intend to DES-naturalize and make visible.

In this series I document the Venezuelan society of nowadays, immersed in the most severe economic and political crisis in history. It has become commonplace to go to any store or grocery shop and find yourself in front of totally empty shelves. Not being able to find food, medicines or common goods. These photographs were take during the early days of the scarcity  situation. Since then, it has deepen and become even more complex and catastrophic, a real humanitarian crisis. The Government continues to deny the situation as people famish and die.

It is not my intention to exaggerate or generalize a shortage situation from my own experience, I just document what goes on in my reality. Similarly I do not expect the audience to share my opinion of the social issue.

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[1] The Naturalization of social relationships (in a broader sense) is supported by historical-cultural and specific power relations dimensions. This implies the assumption that each of the characteristics of modern society are normal, spontaneous, given and arise according to a specific historic time, also it implies the assimilation these characteristics as desirable (“considered to be normal”) and as the only possible. The work of naturalization so to speak, is also continuous and changing according to possible threats, this to perpetuate the hegemony of a civilizing model. Realizing the naturalization of social relations, not only de-naturelizes the extent of our thought, but also helps us discover the logic of thinking that lies behind a hegemonic vision of knowledge. For more information regarding this topic I recommend reviewing Edgardo Lander, from whose definitions I structure my ideas in this short explanation (Post-modernity).

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