Capitolio, Christopher Anderson's photography

Christopher Anderson Capitolio

Orinoco Strip Mine, Orinoco Valley, Venezuela, 2008.

Pampa/23 Enero, Venezuela, 2008.

Blood/ Shadow of Tree, Caracas, Venezuela, 2008.

Lake Maracaibo Oil Field, Venezuela, 2008.

Urban Refugees, Caracas, Venezuela, 2008.

Sugarcane, Venezuela, 2008.

Chavistas, Caracas, Venezuela, 2008.

Hydroelectric/Iron Ore, Orinoco Valley, Venezuela, 2008.

Gold Mining, Venezuela, 2008.

Barrio, Caracas, Venezuela, 2008.

Artist's Statement

My work seeks to explore the relationship between politics, economics, consumption, and the earth. I approach the topic of Earth (or more specifically man’s relationship to the earth) by looking at how consumption in the developed world creates the conditions for further destruction of the earth in the developing world, specifically Latin America. More importantly, I examine how this relationship foments poverty, violence and political turmoil.

When we speak of “…marks that man makes on the face of the land”, we cannot speak about the environment in a vacuum. We cannot look to one distilled simplification such as ‘greed’ or ‘globalisation’ to understand the destruction of our earth. The conversation cannot just be about this or that industry that pumps toxins into the ground, or one government that exploits its nation’s natural resources. In my photographic work, this means an approach that speaks to the complex and inter-connected relationship that economics, politics, history and society have with the environment: consumption drives economics, economics drive governmental policy, governments must drive economic expansion that in turn drives consumption and so on.

Oil can be the most terrible curse upon a nation. Venezuela has lots of it. Not just oil, but iron ore, aluminium, gold, and other valuable natural resources. At the same time, the country imports the majority of its food supply. The entire economy is built around the ever-expanding exploitation of resources. A few get rich, but the masses stay poor. Venezuelan history is a long list of one leader after, rising to power on populist anger, but who can never seem to pull the country out of this cycle: resources flow north and food flows south. Quite literally, the Venezuelans depend on their earth to pay for their food and that leads to even further destruction of their environment.

For the last five years, I have been returning to Latin America to explore the cycle of consumption, destruction, violence and political turmoil that ebbs and flows with the price of oil. These pictures are excerpted pages of the resulting book, Capitolio, which is published in 2009 by Editorial RM.

About the photographer


1970, Kelowna, Canada



Based in

New York, United States

About Christopher Anderson

Christopher Anderson is one of the leaders of the new generation of documentary photographers that is razing the wall between art and documentary photography. Since the beginning in the early 1990s as a ‘war photographer’, Anderson has become recognised for a unique visual language and has been commissioned by publications from National Geographic to fashion magazines.

His pictures – such as the ones from a clandestine voyage with 44 illegal Haitian immigrants aboard a crude, wooden boat that sank whilst attempting to sail to America – have been awarded some of photography’s highest honours including the Robert Capa Gold Medal. Other honours include a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize and the Visa d’Or and Magazine Photographer of the Year (twice). His first monograph, Nonfiction, was published in 2003 and is now out of print. His second book, Capitolio, was released in 2009. He also co-authored two other titles whilst a photographer at the agency VII: WAR (2003) and Rethink (2002). In 2005, Christopher joined Magnum Photos.