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The prison system carries a stigma, particularly in Latin America, where it often becomes entangled with organized crime and survival strategies.
Ronald Pizzoferrato’s book proposes a reversal, in which dogs make their companions human, despite their hostile gaze. The images move and touch us, until suddenly something strikes a wrong note: an architecture that is too severe, a domain of men only, a harsh atmosphere that speaks of a violent background. We realise that these peaceful, happy, almost childish images come from the stark world of the Venezuelan prisons.
Far from attempting to soften, disguise or justify, he introduces an incongruity and poses a provocation. He makes us uncomfortable. He humanises those whom we normally dehumanise, restores order and familiarity to what we have dismissed as alien and monstrous. He arouses affection in what usually breeds hatred and fear.
Prisoners display their pets to show themselves human, to undermine the barrier of prejudice that clouds our vision. It is the dogs that humanise the men, for they remind us that those who live behind bars are, despite the exclusion and oblivion to which we condemn them, as similar to ourselves as one dog is to another. A world where we save the animal but condemn the man.

A special thank to Pro Helvetia, Kanton Bern, Bern Stadt for their support.