Independent photographer, David Sepeau was born in Bordeaux, France in 1980. A member of the UPC (The Creative Photographers Union), he is the author of many social reportage in France and abroad. Among others, he has realized several subjects on Chile (the copper mining of the Atacama desert, the Valparaiso prison, the school of Calama), on burn victims, and the inauguration of the airline Paris-Kabul...
His eye seeks to capture the contradictions of reality as well as the moving simplicity. His work also lies in various domains of the photographic arts in association with architects and graphic designers where he also participates in the creation of ads, plaques and illustrations by developing geometrical aesthetics that have become his personal signature.
Here, David Sepeau presents his reportage on the concentration camp of Chacabuco, Chile.
"There is in the Chilean desert a concentration camp forgotten by all, except maybe Augusto Pinochet and Roberto Zaldivar. It's name: Chacabuco. The barbed wire and the poster: "Danger minefield!". The former saltpeter of Chacabuco in the desert of Atacama kept the aspect of the concentration camp that it had under Pinochet. A former detainee, improvised camp guard, testifies to this forgotten past. Chacabuco, an invisible point on the map was one of the biggest prison camps of the dictatorship holding up to 2,500 dissidents between 1973 and 1974. The living conditions, in the opinion of declarants, were threatening and uncertain. Ill-treatment and psychological pressures were constant. The revelation to the eyes of the world of the existence of this camp by two German journalists put an end to its activity. Faced with the pressures of international opinion as well as human rights violations, the camp closed definitively in 1975. Since then the desert place is inhabited by guards who open doors for potential visitors. Among them, Roberto Zalvidar, a former prisoner who against all logic decided to return to live in this place as testament and living memory of Chacabuco."
Marked by the immensity, David Sepeau's photos broadcast the shock that hits every visitor who appears at the doors of this ghost-town of Chacabuco. Gigantic and dedicated to suffering, the only remnants to this sad prestige are crumbling cement, shards of sheet metal and the endless metal beams jutting from the dust building towards the sky in a landscape dedicated to this memory. These constructions erected for human needs and taken back for the protection of a dictatorship are only material witness: echos of the fear and anguish that resonates everywhere.
"As in a mortuary, we speak in a hushed tone even when there is nobody there. It is necessary to note the geography, we are in the middle of the Atacama desert (one of the driest in the world). When men no longer live in a place, there is no more water and thus no more life. Everything freezes, petrifies. The light is one of the most beautiful that I have photographed even to this day. The sky is crystal clear, dry."
From this clarity, David Sepeau has created these black and white images contrasting and graphic which gives us a paradoxical beauty. The shadows of buildings crush the light and combine with the dark materials to create a disturbing geometry in opposition to the blinding light of the desert. The photograher has chosen black and the white as an expression of past. Only two photos of the series are in color. They are dedicated solely to the human form that alone occupies this place: the amazing guard, Roberto Zalvidar.
In 2007, this series was presented to the international festival of photojournalism of Perpignan "Visa for the image".