Daylight Books is releasing the book Trapped by the Belgian-Argentine photographer Ximena Echagüe.
“[Trapped] is also a story of human resourcefulness and solidarity, a journey into how humanity struggled to survive fear and overcome many challenges. Whether in New York or Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, or Buenos Aires, life went on and people found ways to cope and even thrive, showing unabated optimism and sometimes irrepressible humor. —Ximena Echagüe
When the Covid pandemic and lockdown hit the world, street photographer and curator Ximena Echagüe had just navigated another big life transition, moving to Trump-era New York City, from Brexit Europe. Global stability as well as the details of daily life were in constant flux, and Echagüe’s new book, Trapped is a collection of color photographs that reflect her own navigation and observations through this unsettling time.
The book includes images taken in New York, Europe, and Argentina, that resonate with her spontaneous, caught-moment street photography sensibilities, as well as self-portraits. This combination of approaches reflects the truest essence of the street photography genre, telling the story of life in the public moment, but in doing so, revealing some of the interior landscape of the photographer. In the Afterword for the book, Echagüe reflects on the decision to also turn the camera on herself directly. With the streets eerily empty, her noticing included the stories the vacant spaces and shadows told, and the symbolism within objects.
She writes, “Perhaps not surprisingly, my photography became introverted, symbolic, and imagination was all that was left to replace our noisy and hectic existence. Emptiness suddenly had a meaning, and shadows were full of opportunity; even balloons adrift carried a new significance.”
While her images document the irreversible consequences of the pandemic on daily life, they also reflect humanity continuing forward, coping, and adjusting in solidarity. Observing humans in all their quirkiness working to be optimistic was inspiring for Echagüe.
From one perspective, the content in the beautifully composed photographs is timeless…people walking city streets, reflections in glass, petals scattered across concrete pavements. But contextual clues run throughout the book, such as the occasional face mask, that along with the emotional resonance of the images, anchor the project in the pandemic era.
Curator and writer David Campany wrote the book’s Foreword, and he moved to New York right at the beginning of the pandemic. As a curator for the International Center of Photography, he selected one of Echagüe’s self-portraits to include in an exhibition. He was struck by the way she was learning to see “this new pandemic world with all its strangeness, fear, and anxiety, along with its unlikely moments of hope and humanity.”
Echagüe’s photographs collected in this book are inquiries at a peculiar time in history, and also engage the viewer to marvel in hindsight at how humanity and life continued on, despite the lockdown, the change in routines, the fear. The photographs invite reflection, and at the end of his essay, Campany expands on this idea, writing: “They are occasions to revisit the confusion, the not knowing, the doubt. They make me feel as if the pandemic, as we lived it, was like a photograph: frozen and silent, explaining nothing, but full of clues and possibility.”
Ximena Echagüe is a Belgian-Argentine Documentary & Street Photographer, juror & curator based in Brussels. Ximena’s work has been exhibited worldwide in four individual exhibitions (including at the European Parliament, Brussels and the United Nations, New York) and over 70 Group exhibitions. She has been published by The New York Times, BBC News, The Washington Post, and in many photography magazines.
David Campany is a curator, writer, book editor, and educator. He teaches at the University of Westminster, London and is a curator at Large for the International Center of Photography, New York.
Régina Monfort is an independent photography and visual book editor. She has edited a number of monographs by award-winning photographers and has taught photography at CUNY La Guardia Community College as well as Pratt Institute.
Ximena Echagüe : Trapped
112 pages; 60 Photographs
9 x 10 inches
More information on the artist and project may be found at: