Shifting2023 WINNER WORLD PRESS PHOTO OPEN FORMAT SOUTH AMERICA
Valentina is a 13-year-old who aspires to become a photographer and whose mother is in prison for marijuana possession.
In Latin America, the incarceration of women has increased dramatically over the last two decades. More than half of the women imprisoned in Ecuador have been charged with drug related crimes and the vast majority of these are for micro-trafficking, the sale of minimal amounts of drugs. The adoption of increasingly punitive laws as a part of the war on drugs and the ongoing prison crisis in the country means that women prisoners are disproportionately impacted and especially vulnerable to prison violence, abuse, and neglect.
Valentina is a 13-year-old who aspires to become a photographer and whose mother is in prison for marijuana possession. Ecuador’s pre-trial detention policy and punitive sentencing policy means that the separation between mothers and their children has been especially harrowing and increasingly common. Despite the break in their familial bond, the video and imagery in this multimedia project center around the imagination and experiences of Valentina as a young artist, whose rich inner world is not entirely defined by her mother’s incarceration, even as she awaits their reunion.
I met Valentina and her mother while I was working with prisoners on artistic projects. My own family have been incarcerated, I experienced this situation for a year and this let me create a deep personal connection to the subject to makes possible this complex, collaborative, and multi-dimensional representation of Valentina’s life story. The combination of analog and digital photography with video, animation, and audio gives a special look into the inner life of a young artist making sense of the world through her photography.