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During an artist residency in Medellín, Colombia, I became increasingly frustrated by the shortcomings of representation. I felt like I was just cropping the experience into a frame. The intensity of the environment completely nullified any motivation I had to continue photographing. I thought to myself, “What the hell am I doing with this camera?” The stories people told me I could never truly capture in an image.

The coca plant is one of our most sacred plants. It has nothing to do with cocaine, which is full of chemicals and sold on the streets of Europe and the United States.[…] We are stuck in an ongoing civil war because of drug demands from the industrialized countries. And consumption over there is not going to go down. People are getting more and more lonely, their family structures are broken down, they are just going to want more drugs to be able to cope with life. It’s a health issue, not a matter of war.

—Alejandro, 2012


Corine Vermeulen, “Arvina” (2010).


Corine Vermeulen, “Untitled (Coca)” (2012).




Corine Vermeulen

Corine Vermeulen is a Dutch artist who set up her studio practice in Detroit in 2006. She earned an MFA in photography from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan, and was amongst the first group of artists to be awarded the Kresge Artist Fellowship in 2009. Corine’s first museum solo exhibition, Photographs from the Detroit Walk-In Portrait Studio (2009-14), was recently on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2015

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