My work attempts to blur the lines between Fine-Art and documentary photography
Some called it a civil war, others referred to it as a genocide, regardless, the "Guerilla" had a large economic and cultural impact throughout Guatemala.
The subject matter of these typological portraits are the locals of my hometown: Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Known simply as "Xela" by the locals.
Xela has become a quickly industrializing region experiencing an exponential growth in their economy, a modernization of their architecture and a westernization of their media. This growth has left inadequate time for the people of the town to reflect on the gory ("guerrilla") war which had consumed the whole country only two decades ago.
There is an underlying bifurcation between the people of Mayan descent and those of Spanish descent which is due to unresolved resentment towards the "guerrilla" which include religious differences. Descendants of the Maya still hold on to their belief in folk-catholic saints and deities that are seen as taboo by the large, fast growing Evangelical population. Each see each other as a threat for political control of the country which is deeply entrenched by their religious beliefs.
The "dias los muertos" is an event of great importance in Guatemala--considereded a national holiday on November 1st, the natives go to their local cemetery and lay an abundance of flowers, pine needles in particular are considered a gate way from the living to the dead. In Santiago, they even have a giant kite flying festival to comemerate the dead and the national holiday.
The Mayan descendants are often cast aside, seen as less intelligent and superstitious yet they have a strong hold on the agricultural economy, when they feel unrepresented by politicians they often create barricades from outsiders into their villages or they create embargoes, refusing to trade with Evangelical groups until their demands are met.
My body of work is a subtle survey of these differences which are not apparent to the touristic eye. Through folk catholic rituals, meeting vendors on busses and trains, interviewing local artists, discussing Guatemala's history with public and private university students, I got a glimpse of how locals feel about Guatemala in the 21st century and how the duality of the culture both creates a perspective unique to the country but how it distracts unity.
The landscapes of Guatemala all have special significance, the ruins of Tikal and Peten are protected and repainted in order to be preserved. One can spot spider monkeys to Toucans and tarantulas just by walking around.
Guatemala is photographer's dream when it comes to landscapes, from its rich green jungles to its astonishing churches. The rich architecture and natural beauty create a haven for tourists and locals alike.