Bolivia Remembered

Bolivia, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, December 2011. The camera stares at, grins at me lying on my hostel bed in tropical heat–I shoot angry glares back. The camera has been kicking my butt every day for some weeks and I hate it right now. Despise photography. But I need to pick it up and go create something. Need an outlet. A dark storm hovers in my mind, I am depressed, all purpose seems lost and recent events including a suicide made me fall in a black hole devoid of all light. I walk the world feeling completely disconnected from human life. Despising myself and my existence. As always, light this bright casts some very dark shadows. Despite an abundance of sun light in tropical Santa Cruz I have been in the shadows for days. I like extremes–I seek extremes. Fitting then I guess, that I am in the darkest of moods in the brightest of warm tropical weather.

Get out. Walk. Standing still never worked for me. Must keep moving. Or shadows catch up. Grab the damn camera and walk, walk the streets of this hot, weird and interesting melting pot of a city. Get out of this hostel from hell. Walk, damn legs, walk. A market appears. A gigantic chaotic market bigger than any market I have seen in Asia or anywhere else. A world inside a world. No hiding here. Not a single gringo in sight anywhere. I break out the camera. Channel my darkness into looking, seeing, shooting, making images.

Flemming-Bo-Jensen-Bolivia-Santa-Cruz-street

Flemming-Bo-Jensen-Bolivia-Santa-Cruz-street-women

These are two of my favourite pictures from Bolivia and I like putting them together. They look like one image, almost. The top image is from the street I lived on and an easy image to make. The second image is my favourite from Bolivia, women at the largest market ever in the history of all markets–that I have been to. Filled at least 15 square city blocks. Hard to shoot this image. NO ONE wanted to be part of any photos. Had to steal images as I walked around being the most noticeable person in the entire city.

Memories are funny. These words are written about a year after the images were made. And I want to return to Bolivia. Have been on my mind recently. Calls me back. It is one of the hardest places to work in that I have experienced. I was in a dark, dark place for the 10 days I was there. But it was a very interesting place filled with awesome people and places of contrast and extremes. That’s why I want to return of course. The challenge. And I need the extremes. To create. To feel alive.

10 comments on “Bolivia Remembered

    • Thanks buddy! Markie cuddles are special and there’s no where else I’d rather be right now than the Polaris. Would go tomorrow if my spaceship worked. But have a big trip in South America calling me :)

  1. These two images do pair up very well for exactly the reasons you mention. I’ve dropped in now and again to check in on what you were up to, and I have to say I think you have come a long way. You’ve laid it all out there, or nearly all of it, on this blog and the journey has been tremendous so far. Looking at your archive images and your portfolio galleries not only do you seem to be getting closer to the core of who you are as a photographer but your image making at editing skills are extremely good. Those portfolio galleries blew me away. Keep on keeping on. Keep making images, keep editing strong and tight, keep tinkering and playing with books and magazines. You’ve already gone far son, but it’s the tip of the iceberg, I think, for you.

  2. I’ve read this post so many times I feel obliged to comment on it. I am drawn to the way your words evoke the thrashing mental battle you had back in Bolivia, and I must say the images, with their skewed horizons and chaotic lines, complement this beautifully (and your bw conversions rock, dammit).It’s a mad journey you’ve brought us on here for this short duration.

    But in all of that, saved, in part, by walking, one of life’s great gifts :)

    • Thanks mate :) Søren Kierkegaard wrote on walking “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

  3. Pingback: Tales of Twenty Twelve | Journal of photographer Flemming Bo Jensen

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