Larry Towell’s photographs of El Salvador, at once powerful and compassionate, reveal a country of violence and heartbreak, as well as beauty and death.
Towell first traveled to El Salvador in 1986 as a member of a human rights delegation. Since the beginning of the civil war in 1979, 50,000 persons had been killed, 25 percent of the population had become refugees, and death squads continued to terrorize the cities and countryside. The war ended in the early 1990s, but not without repercussions.
In his haunting photographs, we see a world in which everyone is a combatant and every place a war zone. Yet amid the brutality and death there is a harsh beauty – people grieve and move on, peasant women wash clothes and nurse infants under the eyes of soldiers, and children forage dumpsites for food. Towell thoroughly documented both the war and its aftermath. “El Salvador” represents an honest and intimate portrait of a country and its people.