Bacanes | Revealing Portraits of Santiago’s Alternative Youth

Ricardo Aguilera documents the streets of the Chilean capital, and the changing faces of its underground scene

by Cheryl Santos
Oct 9 2018, 9:02pm

“People think that if you look different, then you are lost and searching for your identity, but surprise: the bacanes I’ve met have always been very confident young people, at least more than those who point them out”, says Ricardo Aguilera, a 25-year-old Chilean photographer. “They know who they are, or who they want to be, and therefore they know what they want to show people.” In certain regions of Latin America, the word “bacán” refers to what is positive, pleasant, or great.

This adjective is also used colloquially among young Chileans, and Aguilera has used it to name his series of street portraits, which, at the moment, is made up of three parts. Aguilera has been taking photos since he was 15 in his birthplace of Santiago, focusing more recently on documenting the faces of the young people who, for him, stand out among the crowd. i-D spoke to Aguilera about the message he wants to send with this project.

Ricardo Aguilera

Why was it important for you to take portraits of young people from Santiago?

It made me really happy to find unique characters among so many people. This happens much more among young [Chileans] — and even then, it doesn’t happen that often. I felt some kind of recognition was necessary and I did that by creating a collection of people, that without any hesitation, I named “ Bacanes.” I go for a walk, I look for people, I tell them what I feel, something nice, I ask them for a picture, we say goodbye, and I have some hugs. Besides the fact that it’s very personal, for me, being young goes hand in hand with drawing attention to yourself and making contradictions and changes… it’s like a legacy, an obligation, and these people achieve that purely with their image.

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