A young pregnant woman in her room in El Carpintero, a section of Petare, Caracas one of the largest Barrios in Latin America. Venezuela
A young pregnant woman in her room in El Carpintero, a section of Petare, Caracas one of the largest Barrios in Latin America. At right, a rainbow arches over the Avila mountains which divide the city from the sea. Image by Natalie Keyssar. Venezuela, 2015.

Since the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, Venezuela has spiraled. Ferocious inflation, the second highest peace time murder rate in the world, escalating political unrest and massive shortages of basic goods have rocked the country, sending thousands fleeing while others remain in a purgatory of black outs, endless lines, crime, and uncertainty.

Now, Venezuela's crisis is entering an even more dire stage. A drought at the nation's largest hydroelectric dam has caused rolling blackouts across the country, leading the government to declare a two day work week. President Maduro, with approval ratings plummeting, has responded to an opposition petition for his removal by referendum–supported by hundreds of thousands of signatures–with the imposition of 60 day emergency law. Looting, and lynching, have become increasingly common and medicine shortages are causing hundreds, if not thousands, of needless deaths.

The Office of Hope is a long term photo project using both diptychs and single images to reflect the surreal landscape and bizarre juxtapositions of an oil rich socialist country in a capitalist global economy, an egalitarian dream plagued by corruption, and a sun drenched Caribbean metropolis crippled by violence. The project seeks to show the personal, human toll of this crisis by documenting the daily life of Venezuelans from all walks of life as they navigate the hardships–and chaos–created by the economic crisis and ongoing political unrest.

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