Madrid

Martín Chambi

Espacio Fundación Telefónica, Madrid

Martín Chambi was born in 1891 near Lake Titicaca in Peru. He created most of his photographic work in Cuzco—a city whose name in Quechua means “navel of the world”—where he died in 1973. In last year’s large retrospective in Madrid, what stood out was the human quality of his portraits. A striking example, uniting Chambi’s ethnographic concerns with a more personal and subjective dimension, is Autorretrato en portada inka, Machu Picchu, Cusco (Self-Portrait at an Inca Door, Machu Picchu, Cuzco), 1934. Leaning on the opening of one of the many trapezoidal entrances to the stone architectural site—at that time still little-known after its discovery in 1911—the photographer poses with a serious and restrained gaze. He is dressed in a poncho with traditional Inca patterns, symbolizing his identification with his country’s ancient inhabitants. Chambi’s treatment of Peru’s Indians, a disadvantaged

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