In the mouth of the mountain jaguar everybody is a dancing hummingbird

Karen Miranda-Rivadeneira

2016 - 2017


“…I traveled to a high forest called Kashka Totoras, presumably where a bear lives. I went there to hear his roar but instead suffered altitude sickness. Next I came across the only banana stand in such a high remote area and a kind seller who was open to a 28 second exposure... I descended from that forest and walked through an area full of milky plants and cows doing what cows do, followed by a small procession of pre-carnival confetti and a standing virgin statue going around town. Some days later, I traveled east to a region familiar to me, I saw a healer cleansing a lady from afar and I was tempted to take yet another portrait of Mama Matilde in what she calls her living space, where she cleanses her patients and herself. We visited a friend whose house you can only enter at dawn. Towards the end of the week I descended to a small but rich forest at the mouth of the mountain and saw a person using the woods as a shortcut. Upon my return to San Miguel del Bolivar, and towards the night, I befriended some kids at the plaza and met a young man who had never drank coca cola or had a pizza, his skin glowed like a Hare Krishna at dawn or someone coming out of a vision quest. On my way to another region, where my time in the Andes ended, I captured a moment in the air and sealed the journey with Señor Francisco blowing fire from his mouth and giving thanks to the Taita Chimborazo….”

Diary, 5th week of the year 2016

*In the mouth of the mountain jaguar everybody is a dancing hummingbird* combines factual and fictional narratives that take place in a small region of the Andean mountains in Ecuador.

This body of work originates in Vinchoa, in the province of El Bolivar, Ecuador, a remote Andean village that overlooks an ancient and active volcano. I lived there on and off for over ten years. However, for years, I did not photograph much.

I am a slow photographer, I prefer the act of seeing rather than capturing, finding, with time, that the most rewarding images come after the immediate enthusiasm has passed, when the natural magic of a place can roam unreservedly.

There is a propensity for the extraordinary to happen when one plays with the boundaries of what is possible. The spirit of the mountains reminded me not to take photographs, the instances I captured presented themselves; my task is to ask permission to borrow them.

Wonder, in the words of a Yachaj, is what fixes in the body life's sublimity and substance, thunders, tundra, rain, wind, plants are perceived to be members of the community.

This is how some of these images arose; collaboration was born out of spontaneity and play, and intervention was born out of curiosity.

The mouth of the mountain jaguar is the entrance to the vertebrae of this land, it is the collective and sensorial body, that has witnessed, endured and lived through centuries of aesthetic colonialization to become again reseeded, embodied and reclaimed as a timeless dance/ relation with nature.

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  • medicine man and his helpers, oil paint intervention of Luis Toaquiza

  • mama matilde in her thrusday bath

  • mountain jaguar

  • springtime, oil paint intervention of Luis Toaquiza

  • banan seller

  • man in his cave

  • aurora

  • man on his way to Lourdes

  • the wedding of the yachaj and the uma

  • the offering in the paramo, oil paint intervention of Luis Toaquiza

  • new life

  • seven saints, seven devils

  • sinchi sacha, oil paint intervention of Luis Toaquiza

  • rewards from the volcano

  • paramo

  • the cleanse

  • untitled

  • carnival dancers

  • the wait

  • vertebrae of the andes