alejandro cegarra – the other side of the tower of david

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Alejandro Cegarra

The Other Side of the Tower of David

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The tower of David is a skyscraper located in downtown Caracas, Venezuela. The structure is 195 meters high, consists of two towers, and contains 45 floors. Construction began in 1990, but after a devastating economic crisis hit Venezuela in 1994, construction was abandoned. The building was 60% complete. 13 years later, in 2007, construction began again. This time however, it was not for its original purpose. Instead of office spaces, approximately 2,000 families invaded the space illegally.

According to the latest census taken by the inhabitants, there are around 1,300 people currently living there. The Tower of David has become an emblematic symbol of the city of Caracas. It represents the hopes of Caracas to remain a major economic center, and the failure to do so.

In this same way, the Tower of David has come to represent Venezuela as a whole. The Tower has a reputation for harboring the most dangerous of criminals; ironically, the inhabitants are drawn to the Tower due to its security. For them, the Tower is their part in the Bolivarian Revolution. Their way of life is a fight against the social parameters in which they are viewed as a dysfunctional community.

The Tower remains a closed society, as they are afraid of being discriminated against, because of their living arrangements. While the take over of the Tower, and their way of life remain controversial, the reality is that the inhabitants are simply people who are searching for a sense of belonging, and a place to call home.

This work was recently selected as the winner of the Leica Oscar Barnack Newcomer Award 2014

Bio

Alejandro Cegarra was born in 1989, in Caracas, Venezuela, which is the city he still calls home. He began studying photography 4 years ago in the “Roberto Mata Taller de Fortografia” or “Roberto Mata Photography Workshop,” while at the same time studying Publicity at Alejandro de Humboldt University.

After working for a year at an advertising agency called “Creative Army” and only viewing photography as a hobby, he decided to pursue photography more fully. In 2012 he started filling in for other photographers at the largest newspaper in Venezuela, “Ultimas Noticias” or “Latest News.” Simultaneously he worked for two other newspapers, “Ciudad Caracas” and “2001,” returning as a full time employee of “Ultimas Noticias” in 2013. Since November of 2013, Alejandro has been working as a stringer for Associated Press.

 

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Alejandro Cegarra

Alejandro Cegarra

 

11 Responses to “alejandro cegarra – the other side of the tower of david”


  • Excellent essay, depicting a world I had no idea of the existence of. It scares me a bit. That little girl and others like her could so easily fall off that edge, or befall how many other hazards, including stepping in a whole lot of dog poop on the top floor.

  • What a wild story and outstandingly illustrated… a great combination.
    Alejandro, I salute you.

  • Can only second the comments of Frostfrog and Skiwaves. Well done!

  • Talk about a world turned upside down. This is well thought and well executed Alejandro.

  • This article along with this essay puts it in even more perspective.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/01/28/slumlord

    Just to be clear….I am not saying this photographic essay lacks perspective.

    I’m interested in hearing how Alejandro got access to shoot there….I’m sure he has plenty of stories.

    I have not been in Caracas in more than 20 years and even then it was not so safe but nothing compare to what it must be like now.

    Great photography Alejandro!

  • Impressive essay. It’s been a while since I enjoyed an essay like this.

  • Really well done. I’ve seen this previously (perhaps on the Leica announcement) and was struck by it then. Seeing it a second time emphasizes to me how well thought and executed a project it is.

  • a totally brilliant essay in my opinion…all the right stuff for a classic good journalistic piece….good journalism plus just really fine pictures to tell the story! that combo WORKS…..i have never been to Caracas, yet this is how i would imagine it based on the work of many photojournalists…and this building and this essay seem such a good way to explain it all to those of us who have never been there…..

    cheers, david

  • This is a really good piece of photojournalism. As David says, it tells a story with great photography: a genre that will never go out of fashion. The essay shows empathy for the subjects and a real insight into what it must be like to live there. Getting access into people’s lives like this isn’t easy and must have taken a lot of time. Congratulations Alejandro, this is the real deal.

    Mike.

  • Hi everybody! thanks for all the comments!

    Well the access was the most simple thing, i went and knock the door and ask permission to photograph inside the tower and was the most simple way and the most effective.

    By the way, thanks David.

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