Backstage at Arca's Venezuelan Homecoming Show

Backstage at Arca's Venezuelan Homecoming Show

Photography by Augusto Silva Alliegro
Mar 21, 2024

After making a name for herself globally, Venezuelan pop star Arca is finally back home after nearly a decade away. The long-awaited comeback show, organized by Cusica VE, took place in Caracas on March 16; Venezuelan photographer Augusto Silva Alliegro was there to capture moments backstage and in the crowd for PAPER. Check out his photos and a video documentary of the performance below.

“A lot of people living in the country, they didn’t even know who this enigmatic, boundary-pushing artist [is],” Alliegro tells us. In fact, there were worries that the show wouldn’t sell out (though it eventually did). The event historical in a country with a “lack of visibility” for the queer community. “People pretend that they do not exist, and spaces where queers coexist are very limited,” Alliegro says.

Alliegro continues: "Just on Friday before the show, I was with Giulia in La Plaza Altamira, a famous square, talking about our plans to document the show. While being there, we saw a gay couple get separated and kicked out of the space by a police officer just because they were hugging each other. All the while, straight couples are free to do what they want just a few benches away. All of this happened because they were being watched by surveillance cameras in the square.”

For Alliegro, who had spent seven years away from Venezuela himself, the show was a surprising step forward. “The show, which was hosted in the Concha acústica de Bello Monte, was packed with an overwhelming amount of individuals intrigued to know who Arca was and fans who have followed her career since the beginning,” he says. “The diversity ranged from transgender people, drag queens, non-binary people and all members of the LGBTQ+ community in a safe space that celebrated their uniqueness and who they are. Something that I had never seen or thought I would see in Venezuela.”

Amid costume changes and new and old visuals, the crowd went wild. “I have seen Arca perform several times, and I had never seen her be this emotional in a show,” Alliegro says. “Just taking in the energy, feeling the public, and the warmth of her fellow queer Venezuelans. She played el cuatro, a national instrument, towards the end of the set and interacted with the public to the chords of 'Cambur Pinton,' a typical melody used to tune the cuatro. After this, she played an extensive DJ set and played with buckets to create 'Tambores' another typical instrument. The set was coming towards the end, and the public acclaimed that she played “Tiro,” a song that mentions every state of Venezuela and had become an anthem to all Arca fans from the country. She decided to scrap the two final songs and sing 'Tiro' as the encore of the show, making the people go crazy.”

Arca also played Venuzuela’s first Boiler Room set after the concert. “She wasn’t the only one playing, but she was able to reunite Venezuelan DJs who are currently pioneers of electronic music all over the world, and her family,” Alliegro says. Some of the DJs hadn’t played in the country for 15 years. “DJ Babatr, Cardo Pusher/Safety Trance, MPeach, Phran and DJ Yirvin all reunited for the first time after having been part of the ongoing exodus that the country has suffered in the last 25 years,” Alliegro adds. “A historic moment for Venezuelan music and the country.”