HUMAN LABYRINTHS: gloomy bogota

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In an effort to attract tourism and foreign investment, in recent years Colombian authorities have celebrated the capital of the country with the slogan “Bogota, 2.600 meters closer to the stars,” referring to its altitude above sea level. I lived there from 2000–2009 and returned at the end of 2012 to find a city that, rather than being closer to the sky, seems remote from Earth. Colombian poet Gonzalo Arango describes it as “a cancer of the soul,” a sad and gloomy metropolis. 

Bogota is the largest city in Colombia and one of the biggest in Latin America, with a population of more than 8 million. It is a complex, aggressive, indifferent urban hell with a multiplicity of overlapping facets in constant tension. It is at the same time seductive and repellent, beautiful and disturbing, a hierarchical and heterogeneous space defined by a perverse, endemic inequality.  

This social tension — only partially related to the nation’s internal armed conflict — generates chaos and a sort of paranoia that many people describe as always being on the alert and waiting for the worst in a mutual, overwhelming feeling of distrust.  

This series was shot using a Holga camera.  

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