Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – 11 June, 2021

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – the 2021 winner of the FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo – Red Flag.

Book Review

Red Flag – Covid Latam

It seems appropriate as we come out of our fourth Covid-19 lockdown in Melbourne (Australia) this week, to showcase Red Flag by Covid Latam, the 2021 winner of the FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo.

Red Flag documents the progress of Covid-19 across Latin America. It features work from the photo collective, Covid Latam, a group of 18 photographers (nine men and nine women) working in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Venezuelan migrants cover themselves from the rain in Pamplona, Colombia, Nov 15 2020 (C) Fabiola Ferrero
A blanket dampened with sodium hypochlorite covers the face of a woman who died of COVID-19 in a poor neighborhood in Lima, Peru, May 13, 2020 (C) Rodrigo Abd
The photographer plays with her son Ikal under the sheets. She spent 146 days in lockdown in her apartment in Santiago de Chile with her son and mother, March 28, 2020 (C) Tamara Merino

“Red Flag” is a call for help and symbolises the piece of red fabric that impoverished Colombians hang outside their homes to indicate that they literally have no food. This red flag is a sign of desperation, but one also of hope. Those who see the red flag give what they can, but in a pandemic, few can live on the generosity of others, especially when cities are locked down.

In the moment of coronavirus, the inequities that societies ignore, are laid bare. Those who are living to survive are marginalised even further in times of crisis. With Covid-19 those who are reliant on daily work as a matter of survival are unable to quarantine. They risk liberty and their health in defying stay at home orders.

A man prepares food at an Olla Popular, a kitchen organized in the streets to feed those hungry during the pandemic in the slums of Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 31, 2020 (C) Sebastian Gil Miranda
Aerial view of Villa Formosa Cemetery, the largest in Latin America, during the pandemic in Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 12, 2020 (C) Rafael Vilela
Essential workers stay overnight in their cars at Otay Mesa port of entry to get to work on time. They cross in the U.S. early in the morning, Tijuana, Mexico, May 19, 2020 (C) Fred Ramos
The Cuban government subsidises rations for all citizens. Each month, the state distributes them to bodegas. Each ration is affordable, Nov 12, 2020 (C) Eliana Aponte

FotoEvidence has a history of making brave decisions in its choice of the book award winner and in its editing and design of the final article. Presenting the work of 18 photographers in a single book is ambitious. How do you create a cohesive narrative when there are so many voices, so many issues, so many locales? Open the pages of Red Flag and you’ll find the answer.

Red Flag weaves a narrative that is both emotive and evidentiary delivering unique insights and perspectives on the experience of Covid-19 beyond the news headlines, the statistics and the political machinations of blame and fear.

As a result, this amazing body of work, through the lens of local knowledge and cultural connection, reveals the impact of this pandemic on a region we rarely have the opportunity to see at a grassroots level.

When we look back on Covid-19, Red Flag will be one of the most important books of that time and is further proof of why photojournalism can still be considered a witness to history.

Martina Veramea Rodriguez, 87, shows a collage she made of family members in her apartment in Caracas, Venezuela, May 8 2020 (C) Andrea Hernanedez Briceno

Covid Latam Photographers are: Rodrigo Abd, Johis Alarcón, Sara Aliaga, Eliana Aponte, Matilde Campodónico, Alejandro Cegarra,  Federico Ríos Escobar, Ana Carolina Fernandes, Fabiola Ferrero, Andrea Hernández, Tamara Merino, Sebastian Gil Miranda, Pablo Piovano, Fred Ramos, Iván Valencia, Rafael Vilela, Daniele Volpe,  Glorianna Ximendaz

You can buy Red Flag here.

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