Marvin
Systermans



Artistic and Documentary
Photography focused
on urban and rural spaces.

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This project is a collaboration with artist and photographer Raisa Galofre.
Arabic Divan, Shortlist 2020
Lucie Foundation Open Call, Finalist 2020 Kunstpreis Münzenbergforum, 3rd Place 2020

Echando Pa’lante
During Colombia's nationwide strict curfews in early 2020, the streets of Barranquilla were barely recognizable. Those who could afford it left their homes only for essential purchases. Even before the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, over 60% of the population worked in the informal sector, and many more have lost their jobs since the crisis began. One source of income, even during the pandemic, is the itinerant sale of food and services. Street vendors have always roamed the streets of Barranquilla day after day, but in the months of the lockdown their numbers increased significantly. They sell fruits and vegetables, plastic bags and cell phone cases, repair furniture, and work in the front yards of residential neighborhoods.
For them it is difficult to comply with the strict regulations, curfews and no-contact orders, and they risk heavy fines in addition to their own health. In its crisis management, the government has found no or only weak answers to the precarious situation of these people, and while the number of infections with Covid-19 continues to rise, the street vendors have no choice but to continue (echar pa'lante). From February to July 2020, I stayed on the western side of the city with photographer and artist Raisa Galofre at the families home. We left the house only about five times in four months to take a cab to the supermarket and back. The street vendors were often our only – non-digital – contact with the outside world.
We set up an improvised studio on the terrace in front of the house and invited the passing vendedores to let us take their portraits for a fee. The portraits are testimonies to their hardship during the pandemic, which is symptomatic of many problems in the country. At the same time they are also testimonies to the strength and resourcefulness with which they face the difficulties that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.