One afternoon a few months ago, an old couple drank a cup of coffee at a dinner table while the setting sun entered through a small window, highlighting their wrinkles. Their eyes, looking down, express more exhaustion than relaxation. Behind the man is a portrait of the couple’s daughter, a beaming woman dressed all in white and sitting on green grass. Her name was Paula Lorca. She was in her mid-forties when her body was found burned in a supermarket on the periphery of Santiago de Chile on the night of October 19, 2019. The market had been looted that night after a series of events her parents are still trying to make sense of. They do not know who was responsible for her death. “What I want most is justice,” her father, Ramón, told the photographer Javier Álvarez. “We are poor, and we might not get it, and that’s what angers me the most.”Álvarez, born and raised in Chile, and currently based in New York, took a photograph of the couple at their dinner table last fall, after reaching out to the families of men and women killed during the historic nationwide protests that started in October 2019 and continued for months. (According to Chile’s National Institute for Human Rights, law-enforcement officers injured more than four hundred protesters—leaving many partly or completely blind—and more than thirty people died during the unrest.) Álvarez’s research turned into a striking new series, Paisaje Invisible (Invisible Landscape) (2020)—a close-up of the empty corner where a man was shot months before, or the ashes of the supermarket where Paula Lorca’s body was burned. “I wanted to focus on the invisible,” Álvarez says. “On what is left that nobody thinks about.”
Essay by Camila Osorio.
After a Revolution, a Chilean Photographer Mourns the Martyrs
In a new series about Chile's political uprising, Javier Álvarez crafts a striking account of family grief and revolutionary joy.