On December 16th 2018 Pepín returns from the farm. A photo of himself in large format is stuck on the front of his house. Pepín calls his wife and says: “Look, this is me. I have always been a carrier of the structure (anda) and member of the Nuestra Señora del Carmen brotherhood”.
There are several photos on the walls along his street. Among neighbors photographed is Isaela, who describes how she fought for the construction of Puente “Brooklyn”. At the age of 80, she remembers her history as a social activist surrounded by a group of adolescents who attentively listen to her and learn of the times when there was no light in the villages and streets were not asphalted.
Near the Plaza de Armas El Carmen there are a total of one hundred images on some street walls. A sort of gallery on the village streets. There are sixteen images on Amador Ballumbrosio’s house. He founded the dance Atajo de Negritos of El Carmen, home of the legacy left by African slaves, brought by Spaniards during the colonial times.
It is a long history of violence, suffering and death. But also of encounters and the construction of identity and belonging.
Though apparently Catholicism dominates among the people, there was an encounter and reencounter of various thoughts and religions that created the existing syncretism. There is the Virgin, for example, who also symbolizes the Andean Pachamama, as well as various African dualistic thoughts, that even though they are no longer manifested, live within particular Marianist Christians.
Live cultural expressions are also present as a result of this syncretism that goes beyond the religious. Some are percussion and dance, African shoe tapping (zapateo), Andean music and Spanish carols. In addition to the importance of solstices during the festivities of Virgen del Carmen, although not on the exact dates; and the present force of Huaca Piedra Virgen, that gave rise to the appearance of the Virgin in the XVIII Century. All these and many other manifestations created a rich culture, in constant movement, creating a strong sense of belonging in the local population.
Amador Ballumbrosio Mosquera carried forward this legacy in the XX Century and his fifteen children are currently the followers of his legacy and promote Afro-Andean identity at the Amador Ballumbrosio Cultural Centre. These days, with Lima nearby, smartphones, television and the slow recovery of the massive 2007 earthquake, the appropriation of this culture is necessary among young people.
In the midst of the festivities and strong feelings is the frustrated dream of land ownership. After liquidating the farms and following agricultural cooperatives, a re-accumulation of land in the hands of some companies was promoted during the Fujimori period. This certainly contributed to low self-esteem. Now farmers are once again low-paid workers.
The month of photographic exhibitions in El Carmen has been named “La Galería Callejera”, and once again many discuss their memories. Therefore we have called the images “mirrors with memories”. An unforeseen effect of the gallery is that many people in El Carmen want to be photographed these days. They believe it is the recognition of their performance as social and cultural actors.
Forty years after my experience in Q’ero, in 1979, I have been lucky enough to intervene once again with images in a recovery process of feelings for identity and cultural belonging. In this case accompanying the Amador Ballumbrosio Cultural Center in the village of El Carmen, in Chincha.