After two months in Iquitos, I flew back to Lima yesterday morning. Later that same afternoon, I was killing time in a book store just off Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, waiting for a friend who was late. I came across the recently published book, Martín Chambí & Juan Manuel Castro Prieto: Perú. I stood there for a good half hour devouring every page of the book and ended up being late myself.
A bit of background: Martín Chambí was a studio photographer in Cuzco who was active from around 1920 to 1950 and is known for documenting the daily life of the city as well as the traditions and peoples of the highland indigenous cultures, to which Chambí himself belonged. Castro Prieto is a Spanish photographer who first came to Perú in 1990 to make prints for an exhibit of Chambí in Spain. For this project he returned to Peru in 2009, and using an 8×10 camera (like Chambí), traveled through the highlands around Cuzco photographing in the spirit of Chambí. Rather than follow in his literal footsteps, Castro Prieto casts a similarly wide net, capturing formal ceremonies, public events, initimate interiors, and portraits, all in a way that’s open to the contemporary daily life of Perú, filled as it is with signs of globalization but still unique as a culture.
The book alternates between photos of both Chambí and Castro Prieto in a way that emphasizes the diversity of their interests as opposed to direct comparison of images. It’s inspiring the way Castro Prieto wields the 8×10 camera so fluidly. Plus, I love the way to photos look—80 square inches of Rochester Love—even if he’s overdoing it with all the tilts and swings. Castro Prieto, who is a big deal in Spain, belongs to Agence VU which has a huge number of his images from lots of different projects. The slideshow for the Perú book is very extensive and worth a look. Chambí also rocks. His foundation has some images and there’s also a few books out.