PHOTOGRAPHY: With a touch of magic realism, Doña Maria and her Dreams provides an exceptional journey through the mysterious world of the Venezuelan desert.
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João Vilela Geraldo
Published date: September 10, 2019

100 years of solitude turned into 12 years of blood-bound companionship and hard-gained trust. A limitless dry horizon where exoticism never arrived, colour never came through the tail of a rainbow, and water is more precious than gold. Doña Maria and her Dreams, the iconic book and travel series from photographer Horst Friedrichs, which led him to win the Lead Gold Award – the most prestigious in photography – was born under the spell of real adventure and the doom and gloom of hard logistics in a Venezuela slowly disappearing into the oblivion of oil and politics, and frightfully gaining a reputation as a test tube for theory and practice gone wrong. Starting in the country’s northwest Lara State and moving in the same direction to the region of Falcón, Horst spent twelve years meeting the same families for similar periods of time each year, paying a much anticipated visit and looking for shade and smiles under the tiny rooftops which had stood time and temper, and the odd storm or two.

No pirate ships

But why would anyone want to travel thousands of miles to photograph a barren, forgotten land where there were no pirate ships, no wars, no famine, no drama, and apparently no news? Why would anyone want to see places where time had stood still like a clever lizard waiting for its prey, or meet old blind potters, wrinkled and sun-toasted chair …


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