Lexi Parra

Documentary Photographer, Visual Storyteller, Community Educator
   
Traditions Holding Struggling Neighborhoods Together
Location: Caracas, Venezuela
Nationality: US, Venezuelan
Biography: Lexi Parra is a Venezuelan-American visual storyteller and community educator based in Caracas, Venezuela. She graduated from Bard College in May 2018 with a joint degree in Photography and Human Rights. Following graduation, she moved to her... read on
Public Story
Traditions Holding Struggling Neighborhoods Together
Venezuela has, historically, not been made identifiable by our cultural traditions - be it Afro or indigenous. Instead of countries like Peru, Bolivia or Brasil that have made their identity known as rooted in their indigenous culture, Venezuela has taken its oil wealth and tried to become the Miami of the Americas.

But, the pueblos of Venezuela tell a different story.

Especially now, after 20 years of a revolution that has prioritized culture and afro-indigenous roots ... during a crisis where few can afford to pretend to anything even resembling Miami ... people are going back to their roots, finding joy and community in celebrations like San Juan, Carnaval, Entierro de las Sardinas and many others that have their origin in afro drumming, catholicism and Caribbean magic.

Many areas that are known for these traditions - from El Valle, a rough neighborhood in West Caracas to Naiguata, a small coastal town about an hour outside of the capital - are low-income areas. Regardless of the economic difficulties, though, people come from all over to celebrate together and carry on tradition. Perhaps 5 or 10 years ago, Carnaval caravans were more decked out...but it is still the talk of the town in March. Perhaps costumes are now hand-made or left over from years' past, but the sparkle and paint still mark the festive feel of every parade and gathering.

It is to say that these traditions, these celebrations, are a breath of fresh air for struggling communities. And, in fact, are vital in defining and continuing on the Venezuelan culture during a time of unrest.

So these images are a collection that pay homage to the beauty, simplicity and resilience that these communities represent - and a thank you to them for showing me the beauty of my culture in a time where so many think Venezuela is lost. This is proof it can never be.

By Lexi Parra —

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