Edition 2023

Photo Folio Review 2022 Award Winner

Oleñka Carrasco


People don’t die in the same way everywhere in the world. Imagine the administrative procedure for death in a country where there are so many dead that cemeteries aren’t finished fast enough to hold them. That country is Venezuela. 

On June 9, 2020, I got a video call. My father was dying in Venezuela, after years spent in an unending hunt for the medicines to treat his chronic asthma. The last time I saw him was also my last visit to the country, in 2015. How could I live through his death when I was in exile, thousands of kilometers away, in a home that wasn’t my own? I relate this violent, painful experience: constructing a way to mourn, far from my family and my native land. On one hand, I use thousands of archival images my brother sent me via WhatsApp, but my home in Venezuela isn’t the same as in my memories, so I transform it with a corrosive that will destroy it. On the other, my pictures of my “borrowed” home in France will be altered by the compulsive striking of my typewriter. My memory is fragile, my bonds to my country volatile. 

Through the simple story of the loss of a beloved being, my pater, the collapse of Venezuela, my patria, is revealed to me. 

In early 2022, my connection with Venezuela was broken; every member of my family left the country, becoming refugees in different parts of the world. None of the places of my childhood continues to exist and belong to me. The possibility of return seems constantly deferred. All that remains of my country is my fragmented memory, 3 kilos of damaged photographic archives, and my inheritance: 300 grammes of soil from my childhood home. This earth is in a cardboard box that traveled across the ocean in the single 22-kilo suitcase my mother could take with her and in which a whole Venezuelan life was packed. A jar that used to hold Vicks VapoRub holds the humblest of my treasures: my Little Country [Petit Pays].

Oleñka Carrasco

Publication: Oleñka Carrasco, Patria, The Eyes Publishing, 2023.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture