Emerging Photographer Fund – 2014 Finalist
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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
EPF 2014 – finalist
Max Cabello Orcasitas
Chungui’s Grief (The Wedding of Grief and Carnival)
In the district of Chungui, Ayacucho, Peru, there’s a foundational myth that strikes people’s imagination the most. From the countless versions that exist, this is one of them: when Dominican monks arrived to the district during the first part of the Spanish Conquest, there was a drunken and insolent local chief ‘a curaca’ who irrupted into the church and threw down the chalice and the world descended into darkness. The curaca transformed into a jaguar and started chasing and devouring people. Only when the saints resurrected, the jaguar was dominated with lashes and fire. When peace was restored, survivors resettled.
Thirty years ago this myth adjoined reality.
Chungui is a distant district located in the region of Ayacucho, which was ‘according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?’ one of the most affected Peruvian villages during the political violence and armed conflict time, between 1980 and 1995. Chungi’s territory, of around 1000 square kilometers, was the scenario of multiple slaughters caused by both subversive organization Shining Path and Peruvian Policing Agencies (Army and Police forces). Currently, that same area contains 320 mass graves with the remains of more than 1,384 victims, waiting to be acknowledged by their families, mostly orphans and survivors of such harsh time.
Today, most of Chungui’s population lives in extreme poverty, and also trying to recover from the trauma that meant so violent in years past decades.
The restoration of celebratory expressions and life-death rituals is interrupted by the still slow exhumation process of the victims and disappeared people of those brutal years. Along with this restoration, Chungui’s population is concerned with recovering their relatives’ bodies.
Many of Chungui’s small hamlets do not have electricity or water supply, not even highways or healthcare centers. Since there are not highways, people have to make long walks of around 6 to 12 hours to move their products to a sales point.
Max Cabello Orcasitas. Born in Lima, Peru, 1974. Founding member of the group of documentary photography Supayfotos. Since 1999 he has worked asa freelance photographer for newspapers and agencies. In 2004 he received The Eugene Courret National Photography Award. In 2011 he received the first place in Latin America POYi Award for the series “Girls want to be singers” in the category Identity Nuestra Mirada. In 2013, his series “Happy Days” (still under construction) reached the honorable mention in the 2013 PHOTOGRAPHIC MUSEUM GRANT OF HUMANITY.