Ana María Arévalo Gosen
Dias Eternos

In Venezuela, economic distress as well as violence and crime – which are deep-rooted in society – culminate in remand centres. Thousands of women awaiting trial can be separated from their families and children for years. “When we get out, we’ll be worse than before we went to prison”, says 21-year-old Yorkelis. Her home: “Chinatown”, a prison with one cell overcrowded with 60 women. Pretrial detention is particularly brutal. Prisoners do not have enough to eat; there is no water and there are no medical supplies. Petty criminals are not separated from serious offenders. Many prisoners are mentally ill and addicted to drugs. The Law Against Hate, which was passed in 2018, forbids anti-government protests and has put many women behind bars. Ana María Arévalo Gosen visited current and former prisoners to examine what this type of preventive detention says about conditions in Venezuelan society.

  • Community
  • Crisis
  • Everyday Life
  • Prison
  • Women

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Photographer Ana María Arévalo Gosen speaks about her project Dias Eternos.

3 Questions
1. The door opener: Can you describe a formative moment in your career as a visual journalist?

Believe in the power of the story. When I started to pursue “Dias eternos”, I showed it to different outlets. Their answer was: “We have seen enough prisons stories.” Despite many drawbacks, I believed in this story and engaged on a “print sale” crowdfunding to produce more work. With that, I won two grants that allowed me to complete my vision of the story.

2. The decisive moment: When did you first encounter your topic and why did you decide to cover it photographically?

The first detained woman I met was 27 years old, seven months pregnant and hospitalised. She presented infections and loss of placenta. Female and male detainees were mixed in the centre of detention where she was held. This is how she became pregnant. After that day, I felt ashamed that so many Venezuelans are disconnected from this issue. So many of their human rights are violated. They are serving an anticipated conviction, regardless the crime committed or their culpability. They are forced to wait for a process that could last years. That is why I decided to work on the conditions of the women in pretrial detention. It is a body of work that gives evidence to one of the root causes of the crisis in Venezuela.

3. The future: What could the visual journalism of the future be like?

This pandemic is teaching us lessons. Due to travel restrictions, the value of local photographers and the high quality of their work is gaining more importance. Meanwhile, social media has enabled our community to produce a positive impact beyond our work. We are gathering funds, teaching online, creating platforms and collectives from our homes. The future of visual journalism will be a mix of both behaviours. Local visual storytellers working to produce powerful transmedia stories. The goal will be to have an impact. We will work not only for global audiences, but also for our own communities.

Curated by Lucas Bäuml

© for all photos by the photographers
© for videos Lumix Festival Hanover, if not indicated otherwise.

*1 November 1988 in Caracas, Venezuela
In 2009, Ana María Arévalo Gosen moved to France. She studied photography at the ETPA in Toulouse and worked as a freelancer in Hamburg. Since her return to Venezuela in 2017, she has been documenting the crisis in her country, particularly from the perspective of women. She received the 2018 Women Photograph Grant, was a nominee for the Joop Swart Masterclass in 2019 and, in the same year, won the POY Latam Prize for South American Documentary Photography for her project about a Venezuelan women’s prison.


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