This article is part of Creating Stories for Tomorrow, a series produced in partnership with FUJIFILM.
One afternoon a few months ago, an old couple drank a cup of coffee at a dinner table while the setting sun entered through a small window, highlighting their wrinkles. Their eyes, looking down, express more exhaustion than relaxation. Behind the man is a portrait of the couple’s daughter, a beaming woman dressed all in white and sitting on green grass. Her name was Paula Lorca. She was in her mid-forties when her body was found burned in a supermarket on the periphery of Santiago de Chile on the night of October 19, 2019. The market had been looted that night after a series of events her parents are still trying to make sense of. They do not know who was responsible for her death. “What I want most is justice,” her father, Ramón, told the photographer Javier Álvarez. “We are poor, and we might not get it, and that’s what angers me the most.”Álvarez, born and raised in Chile, and currently based in New York, took a photograph of the couple at their dinner table last fall, after reaching out to the families of men and women killed during the historic nationwide protests that started in October 2019 and continued for months. (According to Chile’s National Institute for Human Rights, law-enforcement officers injured more than four hundred protesters—leaving many partly or completely blind—and more than thirty people died during the unrest.) Álvarez’s research turned into a striking new series, Paisaje Invisible (Invisible Landscape) (2020)—a close-up of the empty corner where a man was shot months before, or the ashes of the supermarket where Paula Lorca’s body was burned. “I wanted to focus on the invisible,” Álvarez says. “On what is left that nobody thinks about.”
Javier Álvarez, San Bernardo, Santiago, Chile, 2020. Paula Lorca’s parents, Ramón and Maria, drink coffee with the family. Just before she died, Paula had dinner at this table with her parents. Santiago de Chile Chile
Javier Álvarez, Pages from the family scrapbook in honor of Romario Veloz, 2020.
Javier Álvarez, Pages from the family scrapbook in honor of Paula Lorca, 2020.
Javier Álvarez, Santiago, Chile, 2020. A group of protesters is hit with tear-gas projectiles. Santiago de Chile Chile
Javier Álvarez, San Bernardo, Santiago, Chile, 2020. In Chile, a mostly Catholic country, beliefs about life after death are widely accepted. Paula Lorca’s family has felt her presence at their house: footsteps, shadows, sighs, even moving objects. They believe Paula doesn’t know she left. Santiago de Chile Chile
Javier Álvarez, Santiago, Chile, 2020. Francesca Escudero, Romario Veloz’s partner and mother of his daughter, demanding justice for his death outside of La Moneda, the presidential palace. Chile
Javier Álvarez, Santiago, Chile, 2020. Marco Valdebenito, Cristián’s brother, was seen as the first protester to climb the monument at Plaza Dignidad. Santiago de Chile Chile
Javier Álvarez, La Granja, Santiago, Chile, 2020. Alicia González holds her favorite picture of her son Danilo Cárdenas wearing his military uniform. Santiago de Chile Chile
Javier Álvarez, San Bernardo, Santiago, Chile, 2020. The site of the death of Paula Lorca, who was found inside a looted supermarket on the night of October 19 2019. Santiago de Chile Chile
Javier Álvarez, Santiago, Chile, 2020. Protesters gathered at the top of the General Manuel Baquedano monument to celebrate the referendum’s victory to write a new constitution for Chile. Santiago de Chile Chile
Javier Álvarez, La Granja, Santiago, Chile, 2020. Juan Cárdenas’s tattoo in honor of his son Danilo. “I was always against marking your own body,” Juan says. “But I wanted to remember Danilo every day, so I got a tattoo just like him, for him.” Santiago de Chile Chile
Javier Álvarez, Coquimbo, Chile, 2020. Street corner where Kevin Gómez was killed by military forces. Kevin was shot in the back with his hands in the air. The investigation is still ongoing after a year. Chile
Javier Álvarez, Santiago, Chile, 2020. A man yells alone at Plaza Dignidad after the victory of the referendum to write a new constitution for Chile. Chile
A man yells alone at the 'Dignity Square' after the celebration for the results of the referendum's victory for the approval to write a new constitution for Chile. Santiago de Chile Chile