The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is among the oldest photography awards. It is presented annually to a photographer whose work follows the humanistic tradition of W. Eugene Smith. Among the finalists in the 40th anniversary contest, two caught the attention of the Blind Magazine’s editors. We take a look at the Italian photographer Alessandro Cinque who produced a breathtaking report from the mining corridor in Peru.
Alessandro Cinque spent two years travelling along the Southern mining corridor in the Peruvian Andes. Although ore extraction in this region yields nearly 40% of national copper production, making Peru the world’s second largest producer of copper, zinc, and silver, it spells disaster for the locals. It brought them cancer, anemia, respiratory illnesses, prostitution, and crime… Cinque’s photographs are a tragic and alarming testimony to this state of affairs.
“Over the recent years, the situation has changed considerably,” explains one local farmer. “We used to prosper with our animals and fertile fields; now we have nothing.” Alessandro Cinque collected oral testimonies and photographed the faces of the few inhabitants who stayed behind to resist. Many have already left this diseased, deadly land. Contaminated water is a scourge for the locals as it is for the animals whose populations have been decimated. Those that survive, produce stillborn offspring, like the calf that Grimalda de Cuno is getting ready to bury. Another image shows the internment of Félix’s father who was killed during an anti-mining protest. This heartbreaking report shows the plight of a community determined to resist at any costs.