Hailed as Peru’s finest photographer, Martín Chambi was one of the first pioneers of indigenous photography. Now the Art Museum of Lima (MALI) is launching a retrospective exhibition of his work that documented the lives of Andean culture, people and landscapes.
Chambi was born into an indigenous family near the shores of Lake Titicaca. After the passing of his father he travelled to Arequipa where we began an apprenticeship in photography with his teacher Don Max T. Vargas, a rarity for someone with such humble beginnings. After training Chambi moved to Cuzco where we founded a portrait studio near the Plaza de Armas.
Although economically he did well from his commissioned portrait work, his passion was where his roots lay – the Andean indigenous culture, people and landscapes. He did many trips out of Cuzco to the Sacred Valley, capturing the lives of people many regarded as inferior. He left an archive of over 30,000 images.
Many newspapers including Peruvian La Cronica, the National in Buenos Aires and National Geographic published his photographic work.
“I have read that in Chile it is thought that Indians have no culture, that they are uncivilized, that they are intellectually and artistically inferior when compared to whites and Europeans. More eloquent than my opinion, however, are graphic testimonies. It is my hope that impartial and objective witnesses will examine this evidence. I feel that I am a representative of my race; my people speak through my photographs.”- Martín Chambi
The exhibition at MALI runs until the 14th February 2016. It is comprised of over 400 of Chambi’s photos including studio work, self-portraits, archaeological sites including Machu Picchu and indigenous photography.
To include a tour of his work start planning your tour of Peru today or call us on +44 (0) 207 407 1478.