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The Indigenous Eye

Inca Photographer Martín Chambi Jiménez

Inca Photographer Martín Chambi Jiménez

One of the problems with photography as an art form is that the viewpoint is usually that of a European or North American. It would have been wonderful to have photographs taken by native Navaho or Tibetan or Zulu photographers so that we could see the world from their unique perspective. One rare exception is the work of a native of Cusco, Peru, the indigenous Inca Martín Chambi Jiménez (1891-1973). Through his eyes, we see the locals of Cusco, the ruins of Machu Picchu, the back country natives, and whatever caught his eye. Below, for instance, is portrait of four young Quechuan campesinas:

Peruvian Campesinas

Peruvian Campesinas

And here is an eagle’s eye view of the ruins at Machu Picchu:

Overlooking the Ruins

Overlooking the Ruins

If you would like to see a collection of his photographs, you can find some interesting examples on Google Image.

 

3 thoughts on “The Indigenous Eye

  1. Stephen,

    I obviously don’t have the eye for cultural differences in perspective. I can’t tell the difference between those photos and those taken by someone who was not Peruvian/Incan.

  2. What Chambi did was take his camera out into the mountains, which white explorers almost never did, because they were too intent on their creature comforts rather than carrying a heavy camera with glass photo plates up the side of a mountain — with the result that many of the Incan ruins in the 1920s and 1930s were photographed only by Chambi.

    • Stephen,

      OK, I get the point. These photographs would not have been taken by whites because of the difficulty in getting there. In which case, therefore, they are unique.

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