an investigative photo documentary

Exclusive 24-page photo essay from our investigative journalist team in collaboration with award-winning photojournalist Santiago Arcos. Location: Quito, Ecuador Copyright Wondereur 2018.

MEET with artist Adrián Balseca curated by Ecuador's most prominent art critic Rodolfo Kronfle.

Balseca
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THE LAST CAR I BOUGHT, I PUSHED OFF A CLIFF.
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It was a Chevette from the ‘70s named after our national bird, the Condor.
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I WANTED THIS CHEVETTE CONDOR TO TAKE HER LAST FLIGHT.
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It was one of the last cars ever made in Ecuador.
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WHEN I LOOK AT CARS, I SEE LAYERS OF HISTORY.
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I’m really interested in understanding this specific period of time - the oil boom of the ‘70s and the modernization of Ecuador.
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These Ecuadorian cars were not even Ecuadorian: they were made by General Motors. The dictatorship government just gave them local names so people would feel proud and support the whole oil industry.
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CAR CULTURE MODIFIED OUR LIVES AND ENVIRONMENT.
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In Quito, we don't have a good public transportation system, so people use cars, and in the end there are just too many cars, too much traffic everywhere.
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IN ECUADOR, WE MIGHT HAVE PUSHED THINGS TOO FAR AND TOO FAST.
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WE ARE THE ONLY COUNTRY IN SOUTH AMERICA THAT HAS THE US DOLLAR AS OFFICIAL CURRENCY.
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We're now going through an oil crisis with an oil barrel below $30. Since the ‘70s, oil was always our main resource. And now China is gaining more and more control of our economy through investments.
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It looks a bit like the ‘70s again.
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EVERYDAY OBJECTS LIKE A LIGHTBULB OR AN ICONIC CAR CAN SAY A LOT ABOUT POLITICAL DYNAMICS.
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There are many different ways of looking at energy - it could be defined as horsepower, it could be gas or light, or oil.
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I THINK THE HISTORY OF AN OBJECT CAN GIVE US CLUES ABOUT THE PRESENT.
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When I was in school, I remember going on a trip to a candy factory like the one in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The factory could tell us so much about the objects and how they’re made.
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I BECAME FASCINATED WITH THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS OF AN OBJECT.
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I usually start my investigation process by chatting with people who are close to me - my mother, my uncle or a friend.
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Then, when these people’s thoughts seem to connect, I start collecting everything I can find about this specific topic. I buy a lot of magazine collections and books from antique bookstores.
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Often, you can find similar situations in Singapore, Malaysia, or Cuba.
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THE HISTORY OF ECUADOR CAN BE A WAY TO UNDERSTAND OTHER LOCAL HISTORIES.