London’s Latin American community takes centre stage in Silvana Trevale and Daniela Benaim’s new photo project
Venezuelan-born Silvana Trevale and Daniela Benaim are fighting to make the voices of their community heard amidst the growing tide of gentrification which threatens their community spaces.
- Joey Levenson
- 1 December 2022
Growing up in London, it's hard to miss the vibrant Latin American community. However, for many in the United Kingdom, it may come as news to discover that Latin Americans constitute one of the largest minority ethnic groups in the country. That’s where photographer Silvana Trevale and stylist Daniela Benaim’s new project Pueblito Paisa comes in. The name of the project is borrowed from an iconic Latin American market in North London, which Silvana tells It’s Nice That was on the brink of being shut down by TfL in 2020 due to ‘expansion’ and ‘regeneration’ reasons (i.e., gentrification). “As soon as Daniela and I heard the news about Pueblito Paisa, we decided it was important we documented the place and fellow Latin American immigrants,” Silvana tells us. It was hot off the heels of London’s most notorious Latin American market being shut down in Elephant and Castle, and Silvana and Daniela acted quickly to document what was left of Pueblito Paisa.
Born in the same city in Venezuela, the two moved to the U.K. and reconnected after initially collaborating six years ago in their home country. “Finding Daniela was like finding a sister,” Silvana says. Their first collaboration on their heritage, Comadres, appeared in Vogue Italia last year. Now, Pueblito Paisa has a British Vogue feature online. “The project began as a protest and anger we had due to the injustice they were facing, many families that have put all their time into their business since they emigrated, and now they were being taken away,” Silvana explains. Each photo shines light on the characters of Pueblito Paisa, spanning all over the Latin American diaspora with heart-warming affection. “We felt so much love and admiration for these families and people who are an inspiration to all of us.”
From their Comrades project, Silvana and Daniela were already familiar with the ins and outs of Pueblito Paisa and the people who ran market stalls there. “As soon as we got there, everyone was so warm, loving and generous with us,” explains Silvana. “Vicky Álvarez, the woman who ran the campaign and fought for about 17 years for the market against its closure, also introduced us to many of the people we photographed.” What struck Silvana and Daniela the most was the unbridled generosity that the community showed Silvana and Daniela, not just as kindred folk of the same diaspora, but simply as human to human. “Each person brought their joy and their own take in the images,” Silvana adds.
Ultimately, Silvana and Daniel’s goal has always been to bring awareness to what the Latino community is facing in the United Kingdom. So often is the conversation centred around North America when discussing Latin American issues that the diaspora across Europe can be neglected. “We are here and many of us are struggling,” Silvana says. “We are a big minority that isn't being talked about, therefore we make sure our stories are being shared and hopefully heard. The market is sadly still currently closed, the fight still continues for the community.”
GallerySilvana Trevale and Daniela Benaim: Pueblito Paisa (Copyright © Silvana Trevale and Daniela Benaim, 2022)
Silvana Trevale and Daniela Benaim: Pueblito Paisa (Copyright © Silvana Trevale and Daniela Benaim, 2022)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.