Project Detail: Villa Epecuén


2020 Nera di Verzasca Prize - Verzasca Foto Awards


Verzasca Foto


Patricia Ackerman


Project Info

Villa Epecuén

Between the rubble

Epecuén villa. It was founded in 1921 on the shore of the lake of the same name, and came to have about 1,500 inhabitants, being visited by an average of 25 thousand tourists during the summer. The thermal waters of the Epecuén lagoon have a high level of salinity, similar to that of the Dead Sea, which generated a growing tourist/medical interest towards the area.
The village was founded by Arturo Vatteone on January 23, 1921, with the inauguration of the first spa over the lagoon, 7 km from Carhué. The place was called "Sea of Epecuén" and lands began to be lounilating themselves to form a village.
In 1985, a dam burst and buried the town in 33 feet of salt water, rendering it a modern-day Atlantis. Initially, people waited on their roofs, hoping for the water to recede. It didn’t, and within two days, the place was a devastated ghost town.
In 2009, the waters began to recede and what emerged resembles an apocalyptic world. Evenly-spaced dead trees still line what used to be streets, rusty bed frames poke out from concrete rubble and sign posts point to nowhere.
Among the rubble I was shocked to find remains of places that perhaps more symbolically represent intimacy, for example the tiles of the bathrooms and kitchens.