MEMORY OF PERU
Photographs 1890 – 1950
In a rich geography that combines Amazonian forests, tropical glaciers, imposing mountain ranges and arid deserts, the different autochthonous cultures of Peru –one of the six countries considered cradles of civilization in the world–, entered into contact with people from Europe, Africa and East. It was a story of conquest and migration that ended up configuring a typically postcolonial scenario. These elements –geography, society and culture– have interacted in complex and sometimes contradictory ways and have produced surprising cultural manifestations. One of these has been photography. As the images that make up the Memory of Peru. Photographs 1890 – 1950 testify, the Peruvian photographic tradition has been nourished by the undoubted talent of a group of prominent visual creators who used the camera as a means to portray, understand and interpret the country. For a society such as Peru at the end of the 19th century, fragmented geographically and culturally, the photographic image was an essential tool in the construction of an idea –still elusive– of the national culture.
Thanks to these images and many others of them, Peru, as we know it today, began to emerge before itself as an apprehensible reality. The natural wonders of its territory, the great monuments of its pre-Columbian past and the ancestral customs are interwoven with the modernizing aspirations, the advance of the capitalist economy and the social conflicts of a national society in formation.
Memory of Peru. Photographs 1890 – 1950 allows us to relive some of that construction process and value the talent of lens masters such as Max T. Vargas, Martín Chambi, Carlos and Miguel Vargas, Juan Manuel Figueroa Aznar, Sebastián Rodríguez, Baldomero Alejos or Walter O. Runcie, to mention just some of the most conspicuous in this selection.
Carlo Trivelli (Curator)