Photojournalism - NOMINEE: manuela henao restrepo
Photo © manuela henao restrepo
Support this photographer - share this work on Facebook.
“Beauties” is a photo essay examining the manifestations of female culture and the interpretation of beauty in Medellín, Colombia.
Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia. During the '80s and '90s, it was at the epicenter of narcotics traffic in South America. Today, plunging homicide rates, a public campaign to reduce violence, and urban development have helped to create new libraries, parks, schools and a sustainable infrastructure. This confluence of those factors has qualified Medellín as a city of change on the international stage.
However, the social actors of the narcotraffic conflict in Colombia created a new ‘aesthetics’, a “Narcoaesthetic” as it refers to the drug lords’ powerful influence, not only with their money but with their taste, on the whole country’s interpretation of beauty. During these years, the female body became a reflection of a lavish lifestyle. It changed the perception of the women's role in society, evolving from naturally strong figures to a very materialistic approach to their beauty and bodies. This is how cosmetic surgery went mainstream in Medellín and a marked body culture and industry sprung up.
Manuela embarks on her training as an audiovisual communicator by the University Rey Juan Carlos of Madrid, after completing her 5-year degree, moves to London where she completed a master degree in photography at the London College of Communication at the University of the Arts. Immediately after graduating, she traveled to Medellín, with the support of The Guardian newspaper (UK) and The Royal Photographic Society (UK) to produce a documentary photo series about women's culture and the understanding of women's bodies in the city. This reportage, title ¨Beauties¨, had a great reception, being published in media such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian and Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazine. The series was also awarded the Marco Pesaresi Award and the JGS Quarterly Photography Prize, Forward Thinking Museum. She has also had the opportunity to give talks at the London College of Communication and the City University of New York about her work. Currently, Manuela is developing personal documentary projects in the Colombian Pacific. She is represented in Latin America by ABA arte y cultura and works under commision for national and international media.