This essay originally appeared in the Privacy & Perception Issue of Vice Magazine, created in collaboration with Broadly. You can read more stories from the issue here.
Lorena Endara hails from Panama and is currently based in Los Angeles. She is a member of FotoFéminas, a collective of female photographers from Latin America. The photos featured here, part of a series that explores intimacy and vulnerability via a Latino cultural context, were all taken on Lorena Street in LA throughout a single year. It was Endara’s partner, musician Eduardo Arenas, who first brought Endara to Lorena Street, and below he describes that first visit, and how their relationship—and her photography series—blossomed from that initial trip:
Lorena Street has always been a destination for Latinos in Los Angeles. There, you can visit the optometrist, get your boots patched for under $10, eat aguachiles and ceviche, jog around the Evergreen Cemetery, or buy mole, dried chiles, and churros at the mercadito. As a kid, I went to laundromats there, always digging for lost quarters between the washers to play video games.
Lorena was visiting from Panama in July 2010, when I took her out for a drive on Lorena Street for the first time. We went cruising in my metallic blue ’87 Integra, and I drove for three blocks before she saw the street name. Suddenly, she noticed the abundance of storefronts entitled “Lorena.” Her contagious smile radiated inside my hatchback and made me feel like our relationship had a chance. I wanted her to feel at home, as we were beginning a long-distance relationship.
Since that first visit, Lorena romanticized the idea of walking the whole street with her camera. Seven years later , she started taking photos of the street. It was a reflective time for her, a year when she was redefining her sense of belonging. The myth that love is connected to suffering had caused so much dissonance in her, and she started trusting herself as an act of rebellion. Bringing this new sensibility and openness, Lorena’s photographs on Lorena Street show abstractions of what we are taught to see: I didn’t expect to find, for example, an elaborate medicinal garden tended by an older lady in the housing projects, or realize that rotting fruit could symbolize prosperity. These photos show me the potential of living in a place of gratitude, abundance, and fertility—a place where we are taught to love ourselves first.