19 October 2016

The Fragmented Historical Monuments of Lima

19 October 2016 - Written by Veronica Sanchis Bencomo

Chilean photographer Constanza Bravo confronts the historical Peruvian landscape as a cultural construction, and questions whether it reflects contemporary society's conflicts and identity.

© Constanza Bravo, from the series Fractal

Born in Temuco, Chile, Constanza Bravo studied photography at the Arcos Professional Institute, complementing her studies with art workshops at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, a course in Visual Arts at the Pontifica Catholic University, and then with a master's degree in Photography at the Centro de la Imagen in Lima, Perú. Her work has been exhibited widely across Chile, México and Perú.

How did you get into photography?

In 2008 I decided to study photography. I used to do metal engraving and I remember that I loved to do the chemical process: the varnishing, the acids, the waiting times, and the tests. I felt that photography had similar characteristics, but with photography I could have more freedom in the process; it would allow me to travel and to be out of my studio or workshop.

You have been working with landscape photography previously in Chile, and now you have developed Fractal in Lima. Can you talk about your interest in documenting the landscape?

The concept of landscape is a cultural construction: this is linked depending on how our society changes - in the landscapes we reflect our conflicts. Personally, it allows me to give a political opinion in response to many topics of interest. In the case of Fractal, the conflict is historical and about identity.

© Constanza Bravo, from the series Fractal

Can you talk about how you reached the locations of Las Huacas, where you developed your project, Fractal?

When I arrived to live in Peru, I only knew I would work with the topic of landscape. I thought it was interesting to work with a global problem, but in a local place. For this, I walked for many days with a Chilean friend throughout the city of Lima. By chance, we bumped into a ‘huac’ (in the Quechuan languages of South America, a 'huaca' is an object that represents something revered, typically a monument of some kind). When I got home, I looked for information and I found out that there are over 350 ‘huacas’ in the city, but since these are considered patrimony, in theory these are protected by the Ministry of Culture.

In practice, a high percentage of these ‘huacas’ are abandoned, invaded, or half-built by the construction companies: that's where the problem comes from.

© Constanza Bravo, from the series Fractal

How did the title come about?

‘Las Huacas’ were photographed in many different ways. At first, the images are to be recognized in panoramas that allow the viewer to see the historical spaces in front of the modern city. Afterwards come the close-ups, where you are able to see the deterioration of the original and the emergence of different interventions like contemporary footprints. Later I emphasized, through different stolen objects from their original sites, the vulnerable pieces and I finished with the rubbings as an indication where only the vestige is left. This is how the name Fractal came about. Each fragment from these spaces provides a reconstruction of the whole.

Can you explain why you approached your project with panoramic photographs and still-life?

I think it is related to the way of covering the space, fragmenting everything from the most general and obvious, to the closest and abstract, with the idea of exploring different ways of territorial reconstruction.

© Constanza Bravo, from the series Fractal

Is the project still a work in progress?

In August I went back to Lima to finish this part of the project. At the moment I am worried about how to make good edits, but nevertheless, the desire to continue the project is still very alive. I believe the topic is pretty wide and I could continue developing it in other parts of the country, and perhaps even other parts of Latin America like Bolivia or northern Chile.

What are your plans for the future? Are you going to continue working between Chile and Peru?

Of course. I made very good Peruvian friends, and I thought Lima was such an interesting place, so I have planned to continue traveling. Additionally, in 2017 I have been invited by Jorge Villacorta and Carlo Trivellu to exhibit during Lima’s Photography Biennial.

To learn more about this project, visit Constanza's PHmuseum profile.

Written by

Veronica Sanchis Bencomo

Reading time

5 minutes

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