Jordi Ruiz Cirera's latest series The United Soya Republic, presents an emotional journey through the heartlands of the Southern Cone's agribusiness, portraying the changes to the landscape and socio-economic tissue, brought about by intensive farming and the exportation of produce in Argentina and Paraguay.
Cirera has spent three years travelling through South America to give soy and the uncharismatic workings of agriculture a face, "along several trips I visited rural areas in those countries - leading exporters of soya, corn and beef - meeting with landowners, labourers, activists, jobless farmers and those affected by toxic pesticides put on the land, to understand and illustrate the complexities of land issues and its effects on the local communities."
The consequences of growing and farming soy is something which Cirera has sensitively recorded throughout the series, working closely with the farmers, labourers, landowners and their families, Cirera has been able to see up-close how the pesticides, the deforestation and migration of farmers has impacted these communities.
In one image the viewer encounters the plight of peasants who occupy the soy fields in order to prevent fumigations, alerting with a firecracker, yet under threat from the fumigations protected by the police. In another we are faced with the anguish of 'Maria Lina Estorales' explaining the circumstances of her families' eviction alongside 21 other families, her home burned.
Yet what Cirera also encounters and reflects in these captivating images are those moments of joy and family life in amongst the hardships - the birthday celebrations in Iruna, the teenagers swimming in the river near Tava Jopoy community or a child fishing in the community of Campo Aguare.
Cirera surmises, "The situation for indigenous people is especially difficult. Caught in a cycle of lack of land ownership, migration, poverty and disease, they are dependent on assistance-based programs set up by the government. These programs encourage settlement in urban areas where there is free housing, but the result is the uprooting and disappearance of communities."
The United Soya Republic will be exhibited at Francesca Maffeo Gallery. For more information, visit francescamaffeogallery.com.
Main image: © Jordi Ruiz Cirera, courtesy Francesca Maffeo Gallery