A Memoire of Peru
1890-1950 Photos

A MEMOIRE OF PERU. 1890-1950 Photos

Carlo Trivelli

In a rich geography that combines Amazon forests, tropical glaciers, towering mountain ranges, and barren deserts, the various indigenous civilizations of Peru (one of the six countries considered cradles of civilization in the world) came into contact with people coming from Europe, Africa, and the East.  It was a story of conquest and migration which eventually gave way to a postcolonial environment.

These elements -geography, society, and culture- have interacted in complex, and sometimes contradictory, ways and have produced amazing cultural manifestations.  One of these has been photography.  As evidenced by the photos included in Memoria del Perú.  Fotografías 1890-1950, the Peruvian photographic tradition nurtured the undisputed talent of a group of prominent visual artists who used the camera (one of the most conspicuous emblems of modernity in the period under analysis) as a means to portray, understand, and interpret the country.

For a society like that of the late nineteenth century Peru, fragmented geographically and culturally, the photographic image was an essential tool in building a thought of what is ‘national’.

Thanks to these pictures-and many others- Peru, as we know it today, began to emerge as a graspable reality.  The natural wonders of its territory, the great monuments of its pre-Columbian past and ancestral customs are interwoven with the modernizing aspirations, advancement of the capitalist economy, and the social conflicts of a developing national society.

Memoria del Perú. Fotografías 1890-1950  allows us to relive some of that building process and to evaluate the talent of master photographers such as Max T. Vargas, Martin Chambi, Carlos and Miguel Vargas, Juan Manuel Figueroa Aznar, Sebastián Rodríguez, Baldomero Alejos, and Walter O. Runcie, just to mention a few of the most conspicuous in this selection.

Curators: Andrés Garay, Jorge Villacorta Chávez and Carlo Trivelli; in collaboration with Alonso Ruiz Rosas and Gredna Landolt.

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