Martín Chambi: “My people speak through my photos”

Martín Chambi (1891-1973), of Indian origin, was born in the village of Coaza, province of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Peru. His father was an official of an English mining company and was largely responsible for encouraging Martín Chambi to follow his talent as a photographer. Chambi was dedicated to registering the native population of Peru with a different approach to the common exotic form at the time. Chambi registered Andean life having his work recognized worldwide for their high technical and artistic level.

In 1977 his sons Victor and Julia Chambi and American photographer Edward Ranney cataloged 14,000 original glass plates of Martín Chambi photography. This resulted in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA) in 1979.

Currently the originals are in Archivo Fotografico Martin Chambi, in Cuzco. It is an institution founded and run by his grandson Teo Allain Chambi, to press for the preservation and dissemination of the work of his grandfather. Martín Chambi is the first photographer of Indian blood to portray his own people with pride and dignity.

I had the honor of visiting Archivo Fotografico Martin Chambi with Adam L. Weintraub and a select group of photographers. We were warmly welcomed by Teo Allain Chambi who showed us great treasures of his beloved grandfather Martín Chambi, the biggest name of Peruvian photography.

The photos in the slideshow were made  inside Archivo Fotografico Martin Chambi, in April 2014.
More information: http://martinchambi.org/

Back to top