When President Hugo Chavez took power in Venezuela in 1999, he became notorious for his direct intervention with his citizens. On his weekly television show, and during his many public appearances, he often addressed the pleas for help from those in need. Many put their prayers to the socialist leader in letterform, and pressed through feverish crowds to pass their wishes to him. Due to the volume of the requests, a special office was created to help process this mountain of tiny papers, each bearing a dream: a new home, a job, medication, a refrigerator, etc. This presidential department was called “La Sala de la Esperanza,” or “The Office of Hope.” This project begins one year after Chavez’s death, and sifts through the legacy of many different dreams.
Natalie Keyssar’s work focuses on youth, economic classes and the personal effects of political turmoil in the US and Latin America. She has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, Time, Bloomberg Business Week and California Sunday Magazine and received awards from the Philip Jones Griffith Award, The Aaron Siskind Foundation, PDN 30, Magenta Flash Forward and American Photography. She is a Pulitzer Center Grantee, a long-term IWMF Latin America fellow, and the 2018 ICP Infinity Emerging Photographer Award recipient.