Aitor Lara

Photographer
     
The Isolated Marsh
Location: SPAIN
Nationality: Spain
Biography: His professional career began in 1999 when he was awarded the  Juana de  Aizpuru  Photography Prize, showing his work at international art fairs such as ARCO and  ParisPhoto.  He has published four books. In addition, he... MORE
Public Story
The Isolated Marsh
Copyright Aitor Lara 2024
Date of Work Nov 2020 - Ongoing
Updated Feb 2024
Location Isla Mayor
Topics Spotlight
Summary
The project is developed in the maritime inlet formed by the waters of the Guadalquivir River as it flows into the Atlantic Ocean in south Spain when it crosses the Doñana National Park. This project depicts the challenges and difficulties of the people who inhabit this uninhabited  marshland territory, who live in semi-isolated communities and small villages dedicated to rice cultivation and inland fishing. It traces a human story in a territory highly affected by the impact of climate change and the pressing freshwater shortage.
The project is developed in the maritime inlet formed by the waters of the Guadalquivir River as it flows into the Atlantic Ocean in south Spain when it crosses the Doñana National Park. This project depicts the challenges and difficulties of the people who inhabit this uninhabited  marshland territory, who live in semi-isolated communities and small villages dedicated to rice cultivation and inland fishing. It traces a human story in a territory highly affected by the impact of climate change and the pressing freshwater shortage.

This project is a visual narrative, a work of documentary photography. It brings to light the challenges faced by those who live in this great wetland punished by climate change and the freshwater crisis; focuses on their transformation and resistance to adversity; investigates the social and economic plagues of this territory; and lays out the microcosm of their world, determined by geography, isolation and the weak identity process that accompanies their young history.  

It is a beautiful land, but very hostile to human life due to its humidity and the abundance of pests and mosquitoes. Lack of opportunity contributes to the progressive decline of its population; characteristic of the demographic phenomenon known as 'Empty Spain.’ Despite these obstacles, many of those who inhabit these marshes refuse to abandon the land of their origins. Even the youth, who are immersed in social media, resign themselves to remain in the land of their fathers. They remain attached to hard work and to their rural way of life, marked by the rhythms of the harvests.

The visual narrative will put a face to such pressing issues as the dichotomy between tradition and modernity, the progressive depopulation of rural areas, the conflict between profiting from natural resources and conservationism or the complicated situation of the rural world confronting climate change.

The people of the lower Guadalquivir are protective of their privacy and suspicious of outsiders, since many of their traditional activities are now illegal, but after two years of working in this region the author has fostered relationships with local actors and has gained the trust of many who want to share their stories. Through this project, the author invites the public to contemplate and interpret this little-known territory; to admire its beautiful and desolate landscape; to immerse themselves in an atmosphere where absence, loneliness and abandonment hang in the air and where some of the most pressing issues of contemporary reality are embodied. It is a complex territory where the boundaries between the rural world, the conservationist laws and political corruption are mixed.


In 2019, National Geographic Magazine assigned the author to work on the freshwater crises in this same territory. In 2021 the author was the beneficiary of the COVID-19 EMERGENCY FUNDING grant from the National Geographic Society to work on the covid impact in this same territory. The author is also a collaborator of the conservationist World Wildlife Fund. And he has a special license authorized by the Doñana National Park to work within the restricted area.
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The Isolated Marsh by Aitor Lara
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