Felipe Romero Beltran: Magdalena


The River Magdalena, named after Mary Magdalene, is the most important river in Colombia. Its source is the Andes Mountains, at an altitude of 3,650 metres, from where it crosses the country covering 1,600 kilometres before flowing into the Caribbean Sea. Halfway along its course, in the area called Magdalena Medio, we find natural whirlpools that bring piece of wood and other materials to the surface.

Since the beginning of the armed conflict in the sixties, the river has also been spewing out the bodies of murdered people. Guerrillas, paramilitary forces and local mafias would throw the victims’ corpses into the Magdalena to eliminate all traces of evidence. Political tensions and drug trafficking hastened a war with a death toll of over two hundred thousand.

The corpses that have surfaced in the River Magdalena are signs and metaphors of a conflict that completely transformed its territory, conditioning the customs and funerary practices of the inhabitants of the area, for the most part fishermen. Each apparition is followed by the same ritual: the body is lifted out of the water, washed, buried and prayed to as if it were a member of the family.

The conflict, the corpse and the river are the central concepts that structure the case study. The Magdalena project explores the apparition of the murdered bodies discovered in the river that gives it its name. Once their identity has been erased by the effect of the water, the bodies become undefined fragments of memory.

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The winner of the fourth edition of the Fotocanal Photobook Competition, organised by the Autonomous Region of Madrid and Ediciones Anómalas was announced in February 2020.

From a total of 250 projects from many different countries, by majority decision the jury, formed by Gonzalo Cabrera, Director General for Cultural Development of Regional Government of Madrid; Antonio J. Sánchez Luengo, Deputy Managing Director of Fine Arts of Regional Government of Madrid; Tania Prado, art advisor for the Regional Government of Madrid; Rafael Doctor, independent curator; Matías Costa photographer; and Gabriela Cendoya, photobooks collector, selected Felipe Romero’s project: Magdalena.

Felipe Romero Beltrán (Bogotá, Colombia. 1992)
Felipe Romero Beltrán is a documentary photographer based in Madrid, Spain.
He has develop projects in different countries as Colombia, Argentina, Israel and Spain. Felipe focuses on long-term projects that approach social issues related to political conflicts in Latin America and Spain. He is currently developing a PhD program on photography at the Complutense Univerisity of Madrid and at the same time he is working for magazines as a documentary photographer.

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Felipe Romero Beltrán




Ediciones Anomalas






hardcover in dust jacket


22 x 27 x 1,2 cm






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