Fernanda Pineda: We counted 150 murders
Fernanda Pineda photographs young people finding ways to express themselves and avoid gang warfare in one of the country’s most violent cities
Rhianna is an Afro-Colombian who lives in one of the most violent places in Colombia: Quibdó.
In the past four years this city has been ranked one of the worst for murders of young people. The armed conflict continues and is embedded in this place, where young people, with few opportunities for study or work, fall into the multiple gangs that operate here.
However, many young people manage to resist this fate. Rhianna is part of a dance group called Black Boys Chocó. This group is a creative escape for more than 200 young people from the most difficult neighbourhoods, who have found in dance the way to show all their talent and to be recognised by that – breaking down the stigmas that society imposes on them because of where they live, or for Rhianna, a transgender woman, because of her sexual identity.
Rhianna says: “I plan to go to university to do my degree in social work and pursue my other dreams because, here, I am not going to achieve them. And I have to fulfil everything that I have proposed, no matter what, because what kills us in Quibdó is unemployment and the lack of opportunities.”
She says: “The LGBTI community here work in jobs like beauty salons or as webcam models. I want to be a great social worker, model, dancer and fashion designer.”
I started working with Rhianna in 2021, after the murder of her friend José Yoer Palacios, who was 17, one of the dancers in the group. We ended the project in February 2022 and in that timeframe we counted more than 150 murders.
I have been approaching Indigenous, Afro and farmer communities for years, telling stories in the context of conflict and post-conflict, migration, gender and cultural issues.
Fernanda Pineda is a photographer, director of photography and audiovisual producer based in Bogotá. She is co-founder of Páramo Films, an audiovisual production company.