El Comercio is Peru’s main (only) broadsheet newspaper. They are participating in Lima’s Photography Biennial with a show of high minded photojournalism called Sujeto de Derecho (the name means something like “legal person” but there’s probably a second meaning that I’m missing). The show collects various photo essays by current and former photographers for the paper that deal with disadvantaged people struggling (and succeeding) to make a better life for themselves. I’m very jealous of photojournalists in Perú because they get to take pictures in such a visually spectacular country.
The show is being held at the Casa Rimac in downtown Lima. It looks like an old bank building. The lobby is filled with huge hanging prints by Karen Zárate about a project building a resevoir for herders to water their fields of grass so that their cows can graze and produce milk year round. I felt like the ginormous prints cluttered the space and were a little pretentious but you have got to hand it to paper for going big. The rest of the show meanders through the ground floor of the building with different rooms showcasing the various essays.
I was interested in this story by Leslie Searles about a center for indigenous university students in Iquitos that takes the shape of a traditional shelter called a maloca. Here’s a video for the story.
The best part of the show was the flyer. El Comercio, being a newspaper, printed up an insert with all of the stories. They look great–maybe even better than they do on the wall. This is not a dig since this is photojournalism. These photos belong on newsprint.
The show and insert are sort of the ideal world for photojournalism. All the stories are uplifting and visually compelling. There’s no boring press conferences, celebrity gossip or crass advertising. The show affirms the talent of the paper’s photographers. I wish these essays were on El Comercio’s website (they have an inactive blog of photo essays, Mírate, which hasn’t been updated since Sept. 2010). It would at least make my life easier as a blogger. Here’s a list of all the participating photographers with their website, where I could find one: Karen Zárate, Antonio Escalante (Cerro Cachito), Sergio Urday, Juan Ponce, Ana Cecilia Gonzáles Vigil, Dante Piaggio, Polly Reyna, Sebastián Castañeda, Giancarlo Shibayama, Musuk Nolte, Leslie Searles, Daniel Silva, Enrique Cuneo, Miguel Bellido and Richard Hirano.