I don’t need them to tell me what it feels like to be poor … I already know how this feels, how it smells and how it tastes! When I talk to them … I want them to tell me about their hopes and aspirations, about their dreams… about the road ahead and how they imagine it will shape up out in front of them to make the dreaming and hoping come true. I ask them about assistance, about the health, and about their families near or far.
Manuel Rivera-Ortiz’s photographs of people living in poor villages in Turkey and Thailand, Bolivia and India don’t falsely romanticize their subjects’ poverty nor do they explicitly critique the political or economic systems that create such conditions. By focusing purely on the people who populate the poor global villages he visits, he captures the entire range of human emotion: mistrust, fear, curiosity, friendliness, happiness. Social critique may simmer below the surface of his work, but the primary message of Rivera-Ortíz’s images seems to be that hope and creativity are not mutually exclusive to poverty.Manuel Rivera-ortiz