While other photographers chased conflicts across the globe, Ms. De Cesare was preoccupied with a different question: what happens when the war ends... “Unsettled / Desasosiego” (University of Texas Press), is an urgent and moving work that chronicles those who grew up amid political wars, gang wars or both. It is a look back on lives that were lost, and some who triumphed, during her many years in the region.
“Be a human first and a journalist second,” Donna De Cesare once told me. Even before she became my professor at the University of Texas, Austin, I had been well aware of De Cesare’s work and the recognition it had earned her — like a Fulbright fellowship and the Dorothea Lange prize from Duke University — so I was pretty daunted by the time I enrolled…..
It is the enduring strength of Unsettled / Desasosiego that it does not allow us to see these young people as just ‘gang members,' 'deportees,' or as any other reductive classification. We, the readers, have before us the work of a photographer who did not sacrifice relationships for images. In the society of the spectacle, this is a rare and wonderful achievement.
Fred Ritchin, critic, curator, professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and author of After Photography and Bending the Frame.
All of De Cesare's photographs are layered with enormous subtlety. One looks at an image and then one looks and looks again. Each photograph tells many, many stories … added to the fact that she works in extraordinarily dangerous conditions … Donna De Cesare is clearly one of the great documentary photographers of our time.
Mary Ellen Mark, Internationally renowned photographer and author of seventeen books including Scene behind Scene, Exposure, and Twins.
Donna De Cesare’s long years of committed observation, her keen understanding, and her camera eye combine to form something as necessary as it is unusual: an essential history of a phenomenon. She describes the devastation of El Salvador’s youth carefully and precisely, and rids us of all the stereotypes. There is no shock here; only compassionate understanding.
Alma Guillermoprieto, internationally acclaimed journalist and author of numerous books including The Heart That Bleeds: Latin America Now