Inside the Tower of David

Alejandro Cegarra is a young photographer based in Caracas, Venezuela. He won 3rd place in the Contemporary Issues category of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards with his project “Tower of David”.

“Tower of David” was his first big project, through which he showed the tower’s occupants and the lives they were able to build in the decrepit high-rise.

It is a skyscraper built in downtown Caracas, 195 metres high, and two towers of 45 floors. Its construction began in 1990 and ceased in 1994, after financial crisis hit Venezuela. In 2007 the huge building was invaded by about two thousand families, of which an estimated 1,300 remain. They are just people who want a place to call home. The Tower of David is a microcosm of Venezuela and its fate.

Once inside the tower, he realized the daunting task that lay in front of him. This tower is just like any residential building in the world: halls with doors. He had to convince the inhabitants to open their doors and let him photograph them.

Cegarra spent five months in the building, visiting three times a week.

“When I got in, these families showed me with pride what they had built and how they had managed to create an organized system where everyone could live in peace.”

“The mayor of Caracas took some actions when he found out about the project, I was invited to give a talk about the project, and there were some engineers, architects and an urbanist that got involved. All this made me feel the power of photography,” he said.

In June 2014, the government began relocating families from the tower. Cegarra was on hand to document the evictions, and has been shooting an ongoing project that shows the former residents’ new way of life away from the tower.

Alejandro says his photographic philosophy has always been able to make a difference or be a witness so that other people can see what is happening and try to do something about it.

(All photographs by Alejandro Cegarra.)

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