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Nature Writes Itself

Peruvian photographer Roberto Huarcaya’s monumental photograms let the Amazon forest imprint itself on photographic paper.

In 2012 the photographer started working with the native Eseja community in Bahuaja Sonene, an intangible natural reserve in the Amazon, southeastern Peru, to capture the sensory experience of the forest. After trying, and failing, to seize its invisible power with a range of cameras, he bypassed them altogether, turning to photograms.

Roberto Huarcaya. Fragment Amazograms no. 5, photogram, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Roberto Huarcaya. Fragment Pacific Ocean / Pollution no. 2, photogram, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Roberto Huarcaya. Fragment Dancers of Tijera Hijos, Andinos series, photogram, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Photograms are photographic prints made by exposing photographic paper to light. Roberto Huarcaya wrapped thirty-metre rolls of photographic paper around trees and shrubs, letting light filter through the leaves, slowly forming the images. He then processes them with river water. The artist works on the fragility and power of ecosystems in the Amazon, the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, raising the issues of water pollution and deforestation of the native eucalyptus forests.

Roberto Huarcaya. Fragment Eucalyptus no. 3, Eucalyptus Forest Cuzco series, photogram, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Roberto Huarcaya. Fragment Amazograms no. 2, photogram, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

The exhibition “Traces”, curated by Alejandro Castellote, is on view at the Croisière in Arles, part of the program of Les Rencontres de la Photographie, until September 24.

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