rijasolo – miverina

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Miverina, back to Madagascar

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“If you don’t know where you are going, then look at where you come from”, goes the African proverb.

“Miverina” means “to come back”. These images speak of my return to the country of my roots, Madagascar, back over on the other side of the world. It was bound to happen one day, after 20 years of absence… I was bound to feel the desire to go back one day, like an obsession to rediscover what I had forgotten, and confront my imagination with a country – a real living nation. I felt the desire to reinvent an identity after all those years of diasporic existence. These images are the result of my wanderings and meetings on “Grande Ile”. I have tried to show something of my intimate relationship with this country, the Malagasies, their daily life, and the rhythms of their existence. Yet these images also speak of distance. They show violence in my incapacity to be totally assimilated to this Ancestral Land, and violence in the idea of being a resolute foreigner in my native country. Photography is my pretext for learning again and understanding what it is to “be Malagasy”.



I’m 36 years old, and I began to photograph in 2001. In 2004 I started a personal project titled “Miverina” in which I show my intimate relationship with my country of origin, Madagascar. In 2007, I trained in photojournalism at Ecole des Métiers de l’Information (Paris) and I’m co-creator of the collective “Riva Press” with four photojournalists based in Paris. The project “Miverina” has already been exhibited (with another editing) in France and Madagascar. I live and work between France and Madagascar.


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32 Responses to “rijasolo – miverina”

  • pretty essay, but I don’t like the deep dark mood. regards

  • beautiful, intensely personal, with a slight D’Agata feel in the images, love the strong contrast that gives a sense of burning light in the depth of its shadows, personal fav on this site

  • visually i liked it (im a fan of the dark, contrasty stuff) but i don’t think it broke any new ground. this is NOT a bad thing in my opinion- i think the essay did exactly what you wanted it to do.
    the music was nice, but possibly not a necessity for viewing.
    as i write this, i did not read the accompanying text. with that in mind, i didn’t feel the narrative was all that strong. some nice shots but the story was verging on vague for me.
    i will go back now and read the text and take it from there.
    enjoyable work.

  • There is some really nice imagery in amongst this. The music works, and the sequencing moves me through the story.
    The issue I have is with the treatment. I am not sure if its shot with a toy camera, or made to look like its shot with a toy camera, or whether its been heavily jumped on in post, or whether it came out of the camera this way.
    Matters not as it gets in the way of a lot of the shots for me.
    I am noticing the ‘effect’ more than the picture underneath. and a lot of the pictures underneath are terrific.
    Looked through your websites and there is some really nice work there.


  • Gave the game away after 2 minutes as it wasn’t going anywhere

  • Pictures (most) and mood work for me, postprocessing does not. Thanks for showing!

  • The photos are beautiful, but I agree with you when you say on your statement that this essay speaks also (in my opinion, entirely) about distance.

    The whole set is very dark as you were covering a National funeral! Desperation throughout, misery, sadness and death. The few hinted smiles are violently cut by strong shadows across the frame, or else, they are related to being drunk.

    You see, I just think that this essay is unbalanced because you are taking photos of other people but you seem really to focus on yourself. The photographic language that you use is the one of strong and more or less traditional concerned photojournalism, but the message is the one of a personal intimate story, as your return is.

    Did I get the feel of that place? Well, if that place is only about death and despair, then I guess I really did, but if this should not be the case, then I have some doubts about you and your approach to photography.

    Maybe it’s because I am kind of tired to related to the ‘south’ of the world as only a place to look at with petty, unless the subject you are following is really about that. If, like IMO in this case, the drama it’s only technically photographic, then I read this essay as being manneristic.

    However, I did find that you have a good eye.


  • “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”-mandela

    Rijasolo! :)

    First of all congratulations on both your publication and a beautiful, thoughtful and clearly internal expression of what it suggests to return home….

    I guess i’m the odd one out so far, as I thought this a sustained and beautiful essay, for lots of reasons. Photographically, you have some simply drop-dead gorgeous photographs. I’ve never been concerned as a photographer or a viewer with the great-singles approach and tend more to focus on both the narrative and the internal logic and rhythm of a piece, and this one nailed me to that quiet and questioning narrative. Without a doubt, your eye for moment and detail and the unseen vitality of a moment is unquestionable, just some gorgeous pictures and moments. But what i really loved and appreciated about your essay is that, for me, it wasnt an exploration at all about Madagascar but was entirely about your internal and emotional reconciliation to returning ‘home.’ As anyone (all of us) who have journeyed upon that voyage know, a ‘return’ is filled with more questions than answers, filled by grief and oddity and confusion and often disorientation: distance, the distance between what we’d imagined and the place inside us. That kind of emotional doubt and emotional vertigo is right here in this essay.

    This is a rumination of loss, a personal expression of that. How does one accomplish that with the vocabulary and venacular of photography?…well, many different ways of course, and lots of that is expressed clearly here: the shadows and night and the fighting off of the sun. Rather than funereal and despairing it, i found the essay full of complexity and contradiction, including wonderment and joy. It is true that there is lots of ‘influences’ at work here visually (d’agata, paolo, frank, peterson, ackerman, etc) but shit, we’re all influenced, ALL OF OUR WORK resembles other photographers: that’s just called the lineage of the medium….what i also loved was your sequential edit: image that leads to others, chapters really, that lead from one emotion/idea to another…these are not just strung together images, but carefully chosen sequence…you have not only a good eye for the moment but also a good narrative and editing sense: that’s a rare combination :))….

    the truth is that when one wishes to express a certain complexity of internal ideas and feelings and uses the external world to express this (documentary work), it’s a challenge, particularly since most viewers (including myself) orient our impressions based on what we expect should happen with images that are essentially documentary in nature. However, i read and viewed (3 times, 2x’s without the music) this essay as your struggle and journey and it didn’t seem oppressive at all. Maybe it’s because my own work tends to be dark, and i too tend to shoot alot in shadows and at night, but it breathed….notice all that gorgeous play between the shadows of night and the images shot during the day which deal with the fight with the intense sun…..the brighter the light, the richer the shadow, goethe reminds….

    i wonder if all of us look at so many stories that we dont become a bit jaded?…who knows…i still get stopped with joy but stuff…and as for the post-processing…well who knows…some photographers do not think of post-processing, but work the light and shadow and time of day to shoot based on what they experience internally already….i think it’s unfair to suggest to a photographer that they over post-processed unless we understand how they shot in the first place and what things were they drawn to…..

    anyway, a beautiful and rich and compelling story, one person’s reconciliation with distance indeed, that huge chasm that exists inside between what we imagine and the place to which and from which we actually belong….that’s the real journey….

    thanks so much for sharing yur beautiful story…:)))


    ps. while i preferred the essay silent, i loved the song on its own :))….

  • Very relevant story and feelings… to any sensitive human being who once had to leave his ancestral land. I can tell, Rijasolo is a deep person himself… I am shure, the choice of black and white medium and “dark” execution aren’t accidental here… moreover, it’s done with the ability to do it, and it really works. “Artsy – personal – photojournalism”. This essay affects me mentally and aesthetically.

  • Wow wow, amazing work. Very sensitive and emotional and gorgeous photography. Love your work, I am going to watch it again.

  • Strong stuff and nice work “Patwon” !

    Keep on rockin’ !

  • Feeds this desire to find the opposite of these kinds of subject matter. The photography is excellent and I felt creeped out by the darkness and found it hard to watch, but did twice.

    There is this old saying, no matter where you go there you are.

  • What darkness? :))
    That’s meant as a joke because I love dark images so for me dark is light.

    I like it. A lot.

    The first essay I’ve enjoyed here in a long time. I think the reason it speaks to me is because I am currently editing some work of my own recent journey and what’s on my mind is how to tell the story of “travel” without it being cliche “travel photography.”

    Well…your essay is a very good example. It’s not so overly “artsy” that I can’t relate to it…there are still recognizable people and places but they are shown in a personal way.

    That’s very funny…I only now saw Anthony’s comment above about “artsy personal photojournalism.” That’s sort of been my mantra today and as far as I’m concerned you’ve accomplished it here. Good job.

  • I simply love these images!
    This essay touched me deep.
    Like it a lot!
    The music is a joy to my ears!
    Wonderful stuff!

    Yes, this essay hits very much my own personal taste and maybe it works so well because it fits so well to the mood I am in right now. In this case I don’t ask for a coherent story or a story at all. On another day I might have prefered to learn more about Madagaskar, but not today. Today I simply enjoy these images!
    So, I don’t mind the post processing at all. Yes, this is a dark essay, but there is light and brightness as well!!!

    Madagaskar to me is one of the dream places I somehow hope to see one day. My intrest for this “Grande Ile” was ignited by the work of Gian Paolo Barbieri.

    Cathy, no surprise you like this work as well! This is just the right stuff for us and fits perfectly in the post India blues ;-) These images make me want to start editing – right now!

    Rijasolo, thank you for these fine images!


  • Some excellent images, for certain – and I was not bothered by the post-processing. It seemed to me to achieve the effect you were seeking and the song was nice…

    but… I felt trapped and would have preferred to have looked through the images at my own pace and would have liked narrative in place of music.

    That’s just me.

    Still, it gave me a feel for a place and people very different than here.

  • I really enjoyed this piece. Maybe a little long… but I enjoyed the images immensely! The variety between abstract imagery along with great moments and strong informational shots was impressive to me. Great light and composition throughout! Bravo Rijasolo. Loved it!

  • There are many fine photos here, but the B&W grainy-vignetting thing makes them look like everyone else images. I don’t know why so many photographers want their worlds to look like that.


    Congratulations for your publication. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching your essay… First, Madagascar has a very special place in my heart and, even if Bob is right that this was not an exploration of Madagascar per say, it was great to be transported back there through your eyes and emotions. I have really fallen in love with this country many years ago after spending one month traveling there and I wished it could have lasted much longer. This land is magical, an incredible festival of colors with the “green” of the rice fields, the deep red color of the ground… the people in Madagascar are also incredibly kind, simple and generous with their time. As a young photographer this was the very first project I worked on during that month period and somehow, I was really inspired by this place…. my work at the time ended up being selected for the OFF festival in Perpignan… nothing special really but this was the very first time I actually exposed my photographs so only great memories… I keep thinking that I should go back and spend some longer period of time there….

    Now, while I worked in colors, I loved seeing your different vision, the deep B&W inages. I was also touched overall by your emotions, the mood you have been able to create with your imagery. There are some really georgeous images in your work and all in all, I thought this was a terrific essay.

    Well done Rijasolo and thanks for sharing your work with us.


  • I dont like much when post processing covers lack of compositional/storytelling skills.
    Thanks for showing.

  • Hi to everyone,

    I really thank you all for all your comments and constructive criticism ! It’s very a pleasure to read such different point of view.

    first, I would apologize for my broken english ! ;-)

    It’s true that the postprocessing on Miverina seems to be “excessive” but it really was for me a aesthetic choice to be coherent with my personal vision of Madagascar : a mix between the joy of the return (burning light) and a strange feeling of not being in my place (darkness)… I don’t know if this is the best way to translate this kind of emotion. I don’t know if photographic medium is the best way to show it…But, at the present time, I feel satisfied with theses pictures.
    “Miverina” is a project I began since 2004, and as I said in my bio, this work was yet shown but with another editing which was completely different. Today I can say that this first editing didn’t really touch what I would express : too much photojournalistic (because of my main job ?), too much looking-like photo travel, etc… With this present editing, it was important for me to actually focus on myself and not to be a reporter or a tourist, but just a guy who just wants to make sense of his presence in Madagascar. “Miverina” is a sentimental road movie.
    I wish this will answer to doubts of Mimi Mollica who wonders if my vision of Madagascar is ‘death and despair’. I’d like to reassure you, Mimi : there’s no dead in this essay ;-). The despair is not in the malagasy way of life but in my impossibility to become a “real Malagasy” one day. The reasons would be the cultural difference or an identity which didn’t grow up in Madagascar…
    A sociologist says “Double Absence” (or dual absence ?) to describe feelings of migrant who are living in a foreign country : their host country is not their country; and their native country is really no more their country…

    Anyway, as Eric Espinosa said, Madagascar is a beautiful Island (for me the most beautiful country in the world ! ;-), where color, time, emotion, etc. has no equivalent with the rest of the world. All his different, not better, but different. The simplicity of malagasy way of life is just amazing. In Madagascar we say “mora, mora” (slowly, slowly) which would means “All is possible, but we just must accept to have time.” ;-) But I’m not partisan of thoses saying “oh ! they are so poor, but always happy”, I hate this kind of mindset ! I think it’s not the same thing.
    The success of development of Madagascar (one of the poorest country in the world) is not in reproducing a western democratic or economic model, or something like that, but in its ability to find solution in its own culture… heu…but this is another story ;-)

    @ Bob Black : You wrote “It is true that there is lots of ‘influences’ at work here visually (d’agata, paolo, frank, peterson, ackerman, etc)”… ok it suits me ! I take it all ! Some of these photographers you mention gave me the desire to photograph. I love the way they show us their pathetic world…

    “death and despair”… hum… maybe…the world is not just on TV…

    Thank you all again for your comments.

    Wish you the best !


    P.S: Sorry again for my english ! bye

  • I like the photographs very much.

  • Rijasolo,

    I really enjoyed this essay. I guess enjoyed is not quite the right word. The music and the images touched me. The sense of despair and moments of happiness. Maybe that’s what I am feeling at the moment so it fit my mood perfectly. An another day maybe I would have been critical of the technique/post processing. But on second thought I don’t think so. Overall it really worked for me and I am feeling you. I guess that is my own personal barometer of an essay, can I feel the artist at work, can I feel myself in the work, do I feel anything? That is the only thing that matters to me at the end of the day. Each of us would have photographed the place differently but I sensed a personal story coming through and that is important. Authorship over technique. Without authorship the best technique is empty and lack of technique becomes painfully obvious.

    Congratulations and all the best,


  • Dear Rijasolo,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my doubts.
    As I said before, I would like you to know that I DO like the photographs very much. The point I make is that about the ‘language’ of black and white reportage which suggests a slightly different focus than the one of your personal relation with a place where you don’t think you belong anymore. Basically, by photographing other people without stopping to some details or a particular place that relates to your previous experience there (just for instance), one doesn’t easily get the intimate or personal nature of this essay. All I get by looking at these beautiful photos, is the sense of a place without hope, without direction, where yes you don’t show any dead people, but where death seems to be just round the corner. I am experiencing some difficulties myself when I come to the point of choosing which language I should adopt for one story rather than another one. This is a common issue for us.
    Your English is perfect by the way.

  • Rijasolo

    Congratulations on your appearance here.

    I love your overall theme here, the sense of place, and displacement. I think, within limits, you have achieved what you have set out to do, but perhaps not as strongly as you would like. Much of what is here is likely very personal, but does not really resonate with me. I do get a general sense of what is going on, but it doesn’t get much past that.

    I do have some tech concerns. Like some of the other commenters, I feel your post processing is very heavy handed and over-done. You are beating me over the head with the high contrast, major edge-burn. I’m afraid you are falling into the trap of if a little is good, more must be better. I suggest you just let your imagry speak. Colour would be good to consider.

    I actually did not make it through my first viewing, and had to come back later, when I was feeling more patient. This is not usual for me.

    I love some of the images on this series, and see a lot of great work on your site. I look forward to seeing more.

  • I like the mood. Many excellent pictures but some weak. Tight sellection would be perfect.
    anyway very interesting.
    Some awsome photos.


  • Sandra Chen Weinstein

    Beautiful sad song compelling story of rediscovery, “Miverina” brings me home

  • Rijasolo,

    I really like your books.


    Excuse my late response. Been pulled away from what I love most, which is photography, and I can say, deeply, I love the look and feeling I got from looking at your images. It became clear early on that you have a deep feeling and empathy for these people, shown not only in what and when you chose, or rather, impulsively I’d hasin to guess, but also by the attitude these people had with you. Acceptance.

    Going to check out your web site I think now.

    Love that wide mid tone..

    Very nice work Rijasolo.

  • so nice ! i love this dark mood !
    un saludo

  • Very nice photography and treatment, a small treat for the eyes.

  • Very beautiful essay. It could have been Paris or Chicago….that’s very sad but that’s the world we’re in…

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