Workshops/Pedagogy

Photography workshops in Medellín’s 13th Commune with local youths in one of the city’s poorest and most conflictive neighbourhoods.

2006 · Colombia


4th Commune we are (part of) History was a project I engaged upon in one of the oldest areas of Medellín.

I was invited to submit a project to work with the communities surrounding the Pedro Nel Gómez House Museum by Carlos Velásquez, the director of communications at the museum. The city had been in transition for several years, yet it seemed to me that the public (publicity) face was concealing the city I knew and was fond of, ignoring much of its variety and nuances.

I had always loved the work of German photographer August Sander who photographed 1930s Germany. His vision was one that did not fit with the rising power of the Nazis and most of his archive was destroyed as it countered the fiction of the nation that the Nazis wished to impose. An ethnographic approach, like that of Sander, appealed to me and portraiture seemed a natural course to follow – a face to face encounter of local residents photographed by their own.

We also engaged upon tracing the history through collecting anecdotal personal stories from the neighbourhoods and also searching out photographs from residents’ personal albums.

The photos here were made by 50 photographers ranging from 12 years to 58 years of age who participated during the workshops over 3 months.

February to Mid-May 2009 · Colombia