Unwavering faith and quiet desperation are both nuanced in ‘Ezekiel 36:36’, a photography book created by Nick Ballon with text provided by Amaru Villanueva Rance. A documentary and portrait photographer with an Anglo-Bolivian heritage, Ballon spent six months in Bolivia chronicling the lives of the remaining LAB crew. The Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano airline was founded in 1925 and became the flag carrier of the country in 1941, with flights reaching the United States by the 1970s. In 1994, the privatization of the airline spelled disaster, as mismanagement and corruption left LAB in a desolate place. The threat of closure by tax officials and the government made the remaining 180 employees stand together to keep the airline alive, in spite of its grounded planes and revoked license.

The images show the surreal days of the men and women left behind, maintaining a sense of activity and continuation in a place that seems to have stopped in time. Soft lighting adds an otherworldly air to the images, including to that of the Ezekiel 36:36 aircraft, one of the only two remaining at Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano. “The story of LAB is in many ways the story of the Bolivian people, caught between past glory and grandeur, and a promised future that never seems to arrive. It is the story of an airline waiting for a miracle”, Ballon says. This self-published book was named as one of the best photography books of 2013 by TIME magazine. You can order it here. Images courtesy of Nick Ballon.

Flight school – chair and printouts
LAB first opened a flight school in 1927, and counts Bolivia’s first civil aviation pilot among its students. Today, the school technically remains in operation, though the classrooms and simulators remain unused, as tutors await news of the airline’s future.

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dead bird on seat
Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano continues to wait, with resolve and conviction, having endured a long struggle for LAB’s survival. Like the phoenix, he believes LAB can rise up from the ashes and have new life.
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