Project info


Encerrados is a long voyage lasting ten years, through 74 prisons across all the Latin American countries; a journey born from the desire to recount a continent through prisoners’ world. Prisons are a reflection of society, a mirror of what is happening in a country, from small dramas to the great social and economic crises. The prison is a community, a non-place where nevertheless people live each day with precise rhythms and spaces and, to “defend” themselves, the inmates are forced to attempt to reconstruct their own habits, even in conditions often at the limits of the humane, when there are 18 people sleeping in a cell meant for 4 and the bathroom is simply a hole in a corridor.
I have been in the jails of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, meeting with inmates and guards, with fear and anger, with hope and mistrust. Some inmates viewed me as an opportunity or simply a distraction; others with envy, others still with contempt because they thought I was there only to sell the photos of their life behind bars. Each prison provided a way of narrating a continent from inside and out, discovering light where everything seemed dark, the reflection of the violence and the vitality, contrast with each other in a single segment that is simply the story of South America.
Valerio Bispuri