Ezekiel 36:36 by Nick Ballon
‘Ezekiel 36:36’ is a beautiful and fascinating series by photographer Nick Ballon, portraying Bolivian Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB), one of the world’s oldest surviving airlines, in an almost surrealistic fashion. Founded in 1925, it has played an important role in every stage of the country’s history. Since its privatisation in 1994, LAB has suffered at the hands of successive administrations, becoming gradually dismantled due to chronic mismanagement and corruption. Currently under threat of closure and with its downed of aircraft slowly crumbling away, this airline continues to survive through the loyalty and faith of its remaining 180 staff. Sensitive to this poignant and transitional time, Ballon has spent six months recording the present day story of LAB. Due to the circumstances of the airline and the angles chosen by Ballon the photographs suck the viewer in, reminding of the cinema of David Lynch or the work of Philip-Lorca diCorcia.
The self-published book showcasing ‘Ezekiel 36:36’ is a hybrid between the images of Nick Ballon and the Bolivian born writer Amaru Villanueva Rance’s narrative. Making it the first product ever in which LAB has been so extensively portrayed in both words and images.
Ezekiel 36:36 refers to the name of the only plane LAB currently has in operation, renamed after it narrowly avoided a tragic accident.
‘Ezekiel 36:36’ has in many ways become a metaphor for the story of Bolivia and its people: Resigned to look back at past glory and grandeur which is at once half-imagined and half-remembered. There is a paradoxical sense of loss and optimism, which resonates throughout and as the narrative unfolds you can’t help but feel that Ballon’s presentation of LAB relates to us all in some way. Ezekiel 36:36 includes a booklet which documents another side of LAB, showcasing archive imagery taken by staff during the heyday, coupled with dynamic graphic design and typography that was created in house using a technique called Rubylith.
Nick Ballon lives and works in London, with a rich Bolivian heritage playing a key role in Nick’s subject matter and identity as a photographer. Visually Nick has developed a style and palette that uses muted colours and a neutral tones. These tones and the environment where a particular type of soft lighting exists are sought out during the process of setting up a picture. This often creates a subtle and understated image, which accentuate his intent with ambiguity and at times a playful humor. The book Ezekiel 36:36 was part of TIME’s Best Photobooks of 2013.
Photography of the book by Benjamin van Witsen.
For more information on the work of Nick Ballon see here, to order the regular or limited edition of Ezekiel 36:36 see here.