Born to a family of photographers, Iggy Smalls likes to tell stories through images. In her on-going project ‘(Barely) Bread & Circus’, she takes a closer look at the political turmoil rocking Venezuela.
Venezuela, once one of Latin America’s most prosperous countries, has now an official inflation rate of 741%. Though already the highest inflation rate in the world, the IMF predicts it to rise to as high as 1642% in 2017. The government is also more than 10 $ billion in debt to foreign bodies. Some basic products like chicken and toilet paper are rationed out by the state – while most cannot be found or are sold for ten times the price on the black market. Moreover, Caracas is the most dangerous city on the planet – with allegedly 28,479 violent deaths reported in 2016. And it is hard to find the exact, reliable numbers.
Current President Nicolas Maduro – a highly disputed man who took over the presidency after Chavez death in 2013 – did nothing to prevent the increase of inflation or product shortages. With little to no history of cooperation, the left and right political parties have been stuck in a deadlock over the last years. The young generation, who never got to chance to vote and are left behind with broken fragments of their nation, are demonstrating on the streets against what they call a dictatorship.
“This series is trying to best convey what people in Caracas told me, a foreigner, about crime, constant feelings of anxiousness and paranoia, not finding food nor medicine, deterioration of infrastructure, standing in hour-long lines and how things used to be different”, says Iggy. Despite the obvious political dimension of her topic, Iggy has chosen not to push a political agenda through her photos. Instead, she uses color in her work to convey the intensity of the political and social polarization: “red represents the current government and blue the many individuals fighting against it.”
Iggy’s last trip to Venezuela was between December 2016 and January 2017. Since April 2017, dozens of people have been killed in protest-related violence.
Iggy Smalls is a photographer and image-maker based in Barcelona with an interest in the concept of truth and fiction. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Photography & Imaging from Ringling College of Art + Design in 2015 and received Arts Council Norway Miscellaneous Scholarship for Newly Graduated Artists in 2016. Iggy has had her images exhibited in Florida, Nepal, Costa Rica and Belgium.