Fearscapes by Eduardo Kairuz
AN ONGOING PORTRAIT OF URBAN HOSTILITY
In June 2003, I drove Danny Foley – partner of my longtime friend Oriana Romero – around Caracas, Venezuela, the capital of my home country. He was visiting from Sydney, Australia and, presumably as a result of the long-haul flight and consequent severe jetlag, he remained vigilant but silent for most of the ride. Intrigued, I asked him why he was so quiet, expecting the one or two typical default answers that I was usually given by startled first-time visitors. Surprisingly, Danny proved me wrong, returning my question with another quick and sharp one instilled with a poignant mix of awe and criticism: Why do you live as if you were animals in cages? At first I felt insulted, silently asking myself why Danny hadn’t referred to the speed, contrast, informality, intensity, congestion, or even the sense of freedom that other visitors had found so remarkable in this hot and humid place. But then I realised that I had never seen Caracas through Danny’s particular lens. I came to accept that his appreciation of my birthplace was correct, and that from the perspective of someone not used to being part of this simultaneously beautiful and chaotic place, Caracas definitely projected a sense of violence, segregation, and imprisonment. At that turning point, I decided to take my primitive 6 megapixel digital camera and document, as rigorously as possible, this precarious condition. I was determined to capture a new and unseen portrait of my city, which, although ubiquitously present, I had never been capable of seeing. This visual essay is a testimony of that process and includes a brief selection of photographs that I have taken of Caracas through the years. The images now belong to an ongoing research project titled Fearscapes, where I critically document, examine, and unpack the implications of crime and state violence on architecture and the cityscape.