Through personal stories <em>Blood is a Seed (La Sangre Es Una Semilla)</em> questions the disappearance of seeds, forced migration, racism, colonization, and the subsequent loss of ancestral knowledge.
2022 Photo Contest, South America, Open Format

Blood is a Seed


Isadora Romero

12 November, 2021

Through personal stories Blood is a Seed (La Sangre Es Una Semilla) questions the disappearance of seeds, forced migration, racism, colonization, and the subsequent loss of ancestral knowledge.

During the course of the 20th century, 75% of agricultural plant genetic diversity was lost globally. A main driving force of declining agrobiodiversity is the push for the cultivation of monocultures of modified and often non-native varieties, for higher-yield crops.

The video is narrated by the photographer and their father, and is informed by the father’s memory, as well as their own perceptions of the transformations experienced by small farmers over the last three generations. Romero's father migrated in 1981 in search of better opportunities and to escape the violence that Colombia was experiencing in those years.

The video is composed of digital and film photographs, some of which were taken on expired 35mm film and later drawn on by Romero’s father. In a journey to their ancestral village of Une, Cundinamarca, Colombia Romero hopes to learn about their history and explore the forgotten memories of the land and crops, and about her grandfather and great-grandmother who were  ‘seed guardians' and cultivated several potato varieties. Only two potato varieties are still mainly consumed in Une.

Although the project is an exploration into the past, it engages with contemporary techniques – playing with the parallels between genetic codes and binary codes of digital photographs – in order to preserve this ancient knowledge for the future.

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Isadora Romero
About the photographer

Isadora Romero is an Ecuadorian freelance visual storyteller based in Quito, Ecuador. She is interested in social, gender, and environmental issues. Her visual essays, exploring the border between art and photojournalism, seek different approaches using various narrative tools. Romero is the co-founder of Ruda Colec...

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Jury comment

This is a very strong project which approaches an issue of global concern from a personal angle, by reflecting on personal loss. Through investigating her own roots and ancestry, the photographer addresses the violent and strategic erasure of cultural knowledge which continues to have deeply rooted consequences on new generations, broader society and the Earth. The combination of methods and sensory layers – sound, code design and collaborative drawings – build on a clear language that is at once personal and political. The video is well-paced and is a great example of how the Open Format category is a space where photographers can make use of several mediums in a coherent and imaginative way to forward a narrative that is of global relevance.