06 May 2010

Martin Chambi (1891-1973) indigenous photographer

Martin Chambi, self portrait with motorcycle, 1934

At 14, Martin Chambi worked in the gold mines exploited by the British in his native Peru. He learned the rudiments of photography from the same foreign bosses. He became a professional photographer working on commissions, specially portraits, and on his own, photographing the land and his people. As Alfredo Srur observed in a recent note (Radar Libros - here), the commissioned works served to fund his passion for registering his time and culture.

In the works of Chambi, photography will be both the medium and the index, tool and testimony of the modern developments affecting the Peruvian nation and its peoples in the early decades of the 20th century.

Chambi' s works capture and re-display moments of coexistence between the past and a present in transition, that is, a time internally divided between what it was and will soon no longer be, and what will come. Split between being and becoming, the present is no longer identic to itself: a time of non-identity. And yet, life goes on as an homogeneous duration. The paradox of lived time, like photographic time itself, is that in many ways it is a time that does not pass. The place of photography is located between the already gone and the always (t)here. (read more)

Marcelo Guimaraes Lima

read the complete article in the PANOPTIKON