In Memoriam: Christian Poveda, Photographer and Filmmaker

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Christian Poveda, Fabricating explosives in “liberated zone,” Usulatán, October 1981

French-Spanish photographer and filmmaker Christian Poveda was killed in El Salvador, on September 2, 2009. Since the 1990s, Poveda had been documenting Salvadoran gang culture. His most recent film, La Vida Loca (2008), captures the violent lives of young members of the heavily tattooed Mara 18 gang.

Poveda first went to El Salvador in the early 1980s to cover the country’s decade-long civil war. His unflinching black-and-white images of the war were included in a 1983 ICP exhibition, El Salvador: Work of 30 Photographers. Following the exhibition’s initial presentation at ICP, it toured the U.S. for more than two years, raising awareness about the civil war, America’s role in the conflict, and its devastating toll on the Salvadoran people. In 2005, Poveda joined the other photographers in the exhibition in donating the works to the ICP Collection, creating a permanent archive of images of the war that is an invaluable resource for students and scholars.

When ICP remounted El Salvador: Work of 30 Photographers in 2005, we included a monument to three of the photographers in the exhibition who had lost their lives in the course of their work: Oliver Rebbot, John Hoagland, and Richard Cross. It is with great sadness that we add Christian’s name to that list.

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