During our very exciting showcase of the Terry O’Neill Award finalists, we want to take the time to really delve into the work of the exhibited photographers to give you wonderful viewers a deeper insight into the people behind the lens. Today we will be looking at the works of Nick Ballon, whose series ‘Ezekiel 36:36’ was shortlisted for the award.
A rich Bolivian heritage plays a key role in Ballon’s subject matter and identity as a photographer, alongside a desire to feel more connected and explore the idea of ‘foreignness’ in his work within a country cloe to him.
Of this project, Ballon says “Ezekiel 36:36 is a very personal documentary which started off as a story of a downed Bolivian airline, Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (L.A.B), grounded since 2007 finding a multi million dollar investment which would enable them to fly again.
One of the worlds oldest airlines it has suffered at the hands of successive administrations ever since, becoming gradually dismantled due to chronic mismanagement and corruption. Six years after its apparent collapse, LAB remains alive but seemingly frozen in a time of its own. 190 employees continue to work for LAB, despite having had their salaries halved, and not having been paid for up to two years at a time.
The story is a familiar one in Bolivia. It is the story of a country that has lost every war it has ever fought in; the story of a nation whose vast natural resources, far from being a blessing, have lured in colonisers and corrupt administrations. LAB envelopes the national consciousness. It’s an airline frozen in its own time by faded images of a glorious past, and kept alive by dreams of a triumphant return which never seems to arrive. The title of the work takes its name from the airlines only possible saviour, its last operational airplane called Ezekiel 36:36″
All images © Nick Ballon.
For further examples of Nick’s work, check out his website here.
Catch these photographs for real before the end of the exhibition, which closes 26th January.