Venezuela is in crisis, and a trio of art activists want everyone to know about it. Helena Acosta, Violette Bule, and Gina Monc have curated a show at the LiTE-HAUS Galerie + Projektraum in Berlin, which illuminates the current socio-economic crisis in Venezuela through the lens of photojournalism and online art activism. The exhibition is called Republica Colapsada, and it sheds light on an important issue through the expressive medium of art.
Republica Colapsada is split into three sections: the first, The Venezuelan Breakdown, features the work of 15 photographers who bravely and poignantly capture the tense and sometimes violent political demonstrations that have been taking place in Venezuela since 2014. Part two, Dismantling the Simulation, takes its moniker from a digital activist group and online gallery of the same name, founded by Acosta, Bule, Monc, and artist Miyö Van Stenis. A third section is called From the lleca to the Cohue, a phrase that means, “from the street to the hole.” It showcases the product of Bule’s work over the past two years, on a photographic educational program she implemented in Venezuelan prisons. While all three of these aspects are significant, the most visually-striking artworks are the photographs.
But what does this situation have to do with Berlin? Germany’s capital is a melting pot of cultures, and LiTE-HAUS intends to increase cross-cultural dialogue. According to their mission statement, LiTE-HAUS “attempt[s] to address provocative issues using art and culture as a tool for building bridges. Through eclectic collaborations and pushing the boundaries of art’s definition we hope to bring people together and encourage conversation; something we feel is much needed in modern Germany.”
Bringing an awareness of the current Venezuelan situation across the Atlantic is an important cause. The country is suffering from food shortages, inflation, a collapse of government infrastructure, and owes billions of dollars to foreign creditors. In 2015, the cost of oil, Venezuela’s largest export, plummeted. The government printed more money, causing the inflation rate to near 500%. Now, citizens are unable to access basic necessities, leading to long lines for subsidized goods within the country, and equally long lines to cross the Colombian border, where many citizens hope to buy food. The black market, unsurprisingly, is thriving.
Protests and demonstrations in response to these factors have been going on since 2014, which the first section of Republica Colapsada documents. A powerful photograph by Anthony AsCer Aparicio shows a man’s strained face looking at the camera through prison bar-like divisions of the armored boots of police officers, while more men in uniform pin him to the concrete. Photographer Oscar Castillo captures an emotional scene of women screaming and sobbing, or a scene of a tank rolling down a smoke-filled street while a child looks on. Two photos by Elyxanrdo Cegarra immortalize calm-looking Venezualan police officers forcibly detaining distressed young people.
See more photographs from the exhibition below.
Republica Colapsada runs from August 20-August 30 at LiTE-HAUS Galerie+Projektraum in Berlin.