A forgotten peruvian photographer By SĂŠverine GROSJEAN
In the early 80s, the American photographer Frances Antmann , after extensive research , managed to compile and disseminate the heritage of an unknown Peruvian photographer Sebastian Rodriguez. She organized an exhibition in 1987 at the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art ( MOCHA ) in New York. Understanding of the Sebastian Rodriguezâ€™s photography , we need to understand the social, cultural and geographical environment. Sebastian Rodriguez is a Peruvian photographer but it is better to qualify him as a social anthropologist. He lived for 40 years in an area of the Central Sierra over 4500 meters, Morococha, in the Peruvian Andes . Sebastian Rodriguez is a forgotten photographer . Thanks to the legacy he left to his family, he helps to remember a history of Peru , a traditional Peruvian living in the changes made by the modernization of the early twentieth century. Sebastian Rodriguez was born in 1896 into a humble family in the city of Huancay ,Central Sierra of Peru. Always accompanied by his brother, Braulio , he developed very quickly an interest in art . Interested in photogaphy , he moved to Lima , where he became the assistant of one of the greatest photographers : Luis Ugarte . Sebastian Rodriguez learned new techniques. He became a precursor of photography " illuminated " and photography oil . His clients were mostly composed of people important political and economic world asking portraits. For 10 years, he accompanied his mentor before deciding to install from him own photo lab. Sebastian Rodriguez had made a name in the world of photographers. However , he decided to be a traveling photographer. He carried his camera , his tripod on a donkey in incredible and difficult places in the hills of the Central Sierra to browse the Andean villages and mining camps in the center of the country . In 1928, he moved to Morococha in the province of Yauli , located in the region of Junin , which later became the beginning of a long photographic and personal project . He began working for Cerro de Pasca Copper Corporation . He took photographs of staff. No one yet knows the he will become the witness and the "voice" of the people living in difficult conditions He married Francisca Najera . He remained there until his death in 1968 at the age of 72 . Sebastian Rodriguez evolved in a society which initiates an international boom.
The U.S. inversions bought most of the country's mines .The American capital allowed expansion due to the introduction of new mining technologies . The Peruvian government didn’t regulate the sector, allowing companies greater freedom of action. The relationship between landowners and peasants was complicated. Landowners and businesses worked together to expand their lands. The rural communities were already weakened due to the war. Men were gone. The usurpation of land became easy. Violence increased. Between 1919 and 1930, the thinking was marked by elitist ideas of government and contempt for the popular classes. The political class was powerful , repressive and autocratic . She had a Europeanized vision. Native human and cultural element was considered "barbaric". From 1930 was initiate a period of military governments and popular movements such as Alianza Popular Revolucionaria ( Popular Revolutionary alliaceous ) on the political scene. Until the 1950s, the rural exodus remained important mainly in the Sierra to the Peruvian coast . Farmers were looking for better living conditions and education for their children. In 1968, after a period of intense political crisis , the Revolution Armed Forces took power with an anti- imperialist message anti-American and anti- oligarchic . During these periods , Sebastian Rodriguez was a privileged witness . He was the photographer of a community, a country changing. Sebastian Rodriguez’s was the kind of courage. The courage of a man who for 40 years of his life shared the difficult conditions of these communities . Social inequalities , conflicts , modernity and tradition were the themes addressed by Sebastian Rodriguez. Sebastian Rodriguez’s photographs are connecting a past life and His work can make portraits of everyday life . Sebastian Rodriguez’s photographs seem conventional , simple . The subject strikes a pose for the camera during long minutes. His photographs are worked. Each photo is thought ( angle shooting , exposure ... ) Sebastian Rodriguez used natural light. His photographs depict people of great character . He speaks of their values. Each photograph was a tribute to these people cope with changes in their lives. Photography is just a pretext for reconnecting . Most of the photos were printed to make postcards and sent to the families of the miners . A promise of a future return . Sebastian Rodriguez is an important Peruvian photographer, can be considered the second Chambi . This is a photographic , artistic , aesthetic project . This is a look between the real and the imaginary. This photographic work offers an analysis of a history of chronic life . In 1958, the theft of his old camera Agfa put a sudden end to his career . Sebastian Rodriguez was more than a photographer. He was a visual anthropologist. Sebastian Rodriguez was a technique , a presence, a story. He photographed a unique and popular history , the Sierra Central.
Sebastian Rodriguez deserves recognition .. There is little known despite having 2 photos in permanent collection at MoMA in New York. , 1 photo at the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum for one Fotokunst Denmark.