Huanaque is a very small village lost into the Bolivian Andes, on the edge of the world-famous salt desert of Tunupa-Uyuni. Its inhabitants, basically farmers or shepherds, seem to live in balance with their environment, despite a harsh climate and difficult material conditions. However, the village slowly empties : young people leave it attracted by city lights.
Thanks to the NGO AVSF, I spent 2 weeks in Huanaque. As the first stranger hosted in the village, my stay was a good test for the responsible tourism project that AVSF was developing with the inhabitants. With pictures and personal notes, I wanted to share my experience and my meetings, as well as my impressions upon the living conditions in the village, in the light of my university studies on rural poverty.
Question: Photography is…
This is a fondamental question, always in my mind, which pushes me to a deeper understanding of myself and of what I want to say with my work. I will answer using the words of the photographer Harry Callahan : “ Photography is an adventure just as life is an adventure. If a man wishes to express himself photographically, he must understand, surely to a certain extent, his relationship to life”.
Photography and writing…
I always considered myself as a writer using photographs instead of words. Linking texts to photographs has been an evidence since my very first steps. My first works – Somali Restaurant and Dom – were made in collaboration with the italian writer Daniele Comberiati. Adding some personal notes to my pictures in Huanaque, inspired by my university studies on rural poverty, I wanted to share in a more complete way my experience and my impressions about the living conditions in the village.
Who left the biggest impression on you?
Of course, many photographers but mainly: Henri Cartier Bresson, Sebastiao Salgado, the french humanists, Larry Towell and his long term project upon the Mennonites, Raymond Depardon who was the first to add personal notes to his photo-journalistic pictures. Writers also, like Jack London and Panaït Istrati.
Raphaël Blasselle (www.raphaelblasselle.eu), born in France in 1979. I have been living for twenty years in Rome, Italy. After my master degree in Economics, I studied photography at Officine Fotografiche. Then I moved to Paris, France, where I still live and work as a free-lance photographer. Aware of the deep evolution of this profession, I broaden my horizons teaching photography and co-founding digital communication studio Frite. These experiences enhance my personal work stimulating my reflexion on story- telling!