Visiting Bolivia out of curiosity, Paris-based photographer Naguel Rivero arrived in La Paz – the highest capital city in the world (3,640m above sea level) – and found a source of inspiration that caused him to stay and capture the South American city’s landscape and people. “[La Paz] caught me and every day I found new points of attraction to see,” Rivero tells us. “I was interested in going to Bolivia because they have a totally different relation to their identity. It was at a new chapter in my work I wanted to be more direct, more instinctive and without expectations.”
Seeking something new away from the London’s, the New York’s and the Milan’s, where Rivero often practices his editorial trade, Bolivia was the perfect unknown destination for this photographer. “What most attracts me in La Paz is the feeling of not being in a place I saw before, it is not a city like New York or Paris which are cities that we all know from movies since we were children, in Bolivia I found other visual codes – among many things – that are something new for me, that aesthetically generates a lot of curiosity.”
Twisting through the city’s skyline, La Paz boasts a unique sight, it’s very own “subway in the sky”, the highest, longest urban cable car system in the world. Stretching from the bustling streets through the mountaintop communities the system sees the city’s citizens “go to their jobs floating in the air” – as Rivero poetically puts it, conjuring Wes Anderson-esque imagery.
Warm and welcoming, it was the community’s genuine curiosity and openness towards being photographed that pleasantly surprised Rivero. “What impressed me the most during this experience was the purity of Bolivians in terms of their own image and representation. I could ask them a photograph in any places and any situation, I don’t feel the same in other cities, there is usually a lot of paranoia with the use of photography and that affects a photographer’s work in the contemporary world.
Opening today, Rivero will be presenting this photo series in Paris’ Le Marais in a special pop-up exhibition, while the images will also be displayed outdoors on public walls throughout the surrounding area.
“The street exhibition parallel to the gallery one is really special to me, I see it as something experimental. While we were putting up the pictures people always stopped and asked us things, and that I like a lot, people try to guess where people are from, whether they are famous or not, it’s funny but they never guess that it’s Latin America.
The humanity of those characters comes even more strongly than in prints – it’s a direct contact with people, buildings, smells and sounds. This experience changes the viewer’s approach because they are directly caught by a world they didn’t expect but that is placed in front of them. You can create your own movies and scenario here, in the street photographs have their own life.”
Naguel Rivero: Paz opens today from 19:00 at 5 cite Dupetit-Thouars 75003, Paris.
The images are also being displayed on street walls around Le Marais.