Once an editorial illustrator and now a filmmaker, Carlos Llerena Aguirre has been documenting Saynatakuna, the masks and transfigurations in Paukartambo, in his native Peru. There is an eerie beauty to these celebratory masks and costumes for the Feast of the Virgen del Carmen, held every year from July 15–19 in Cuzco on the site where rebel uprisings held by Tupac Amaru were enacted against Spain’s colonial rule. Aguirre has captured on film what Angie Bonino calls the “complex mental process of the resistance identity created as a strategy in response to the Colonial context.” Her words appear in an essay in the documentary book that includes a DVD produced by the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo. She adds:
“The community under Spanish domination delved deep within themselves to define who ‘I am,’ as opposed to who ‘the other’ is, thus negotiating their possibilities for cultural representation with themselves and the invaders.”
The photographs and video examine the handcrafts associated with the celebration, like wood carving, costume making and design, with a special focus on the legendary masks. Masks “have a great potential for understanding the architecture and transmutation of identities,” writes Bonimo.
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