ROBERTO HUARCAYA’S PHOTOGRAPHS AT LES RECONTRES D’ARLES
Les Recontres d’Arles, the first international festival of photography, presents Traces, an exhibition by Roberto Huarcaya, a key figure in Peruvian contemporary photography.
Curated by Alejandro Castellote, Traces comprises three photo series: Amazongrams [Amazongramas] (2014-2022); Andreagrams [Andegramas] (2017-2022) and Oceanograms [Oceanogramas] (2019).
In 2012, Roberto Huarcaya participated in a project in Bahuaja Sonene, an intangible natural reserve in the Amazon, located in southeastern Peru and inhabited by the Eseja community.
For the first two years, he worked with a range of different cameras but none were capable of capturing the invisible sensory experiences present in that vast, powerful landscape. He decided to shift his approach from creator to mediator, allowing the jungle to write its own story in light, without outside interference. He chose to take photograms. In doing so, he was able to emulate the way in which nature lets time pass slowly to allow the cycles of life to come full circle. He produced his first images with help from local community members, wrapping thirty-meter rolls of photographic paper around trees and shrubs at night and processing them with river water, full of impurities and grains of sand.
This empathy with the natural world now forms part of a more ambitious project: to construct an alternative imaginary of the Peruvian landscape that encompasses the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, using images that straddle documentary and fiction. Through this exploratory project, Roberto Huarcaya is able to raise the issues of water pollution and deforestation of the native eucalyptus forests. On the coast, plastic waste takes center stage and appears perversely beautiful in the images, while in the Andes, the photograms explore the continued existence of ancestral traditions and cultures.