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Martín Chambi

Jugando al sapo en chicheria, Cusco (Playing sapo in a chicheria)

1931, printed later

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The Peruvian hacienda, or plantation, was not simply a place but an extensive system of labor exploitation. Indigenous workers signed contracts with plantation owners (hacendados or hacendadas) that often required giving up part of the harvest to the owner and buying products in hacienda stores,for which laborers assumed  unpayable debts. The photograph on the right shows one of the few moments of hacendado-laborer conviviality: a religious celebration, probably of the hacienda’s patron saint. Instead of simply documenting the event’s folkloric attributes, Martín Chambi emphasized social tensions. Although the hacienda owners and their families appear on the balcony, Chambi’s blurred focus toward the background redirects the viewer’s attention from these privileged individuals to the sharply defined faces, bodies, and clothing of the laborers in the courtyard below. [Permanent collection label, 2023]

  • Artist Martín Chambi (Peruvian, 1891–1973)
  • Title Jugando al sapo en chicheria, Cusco (Playing sapo in a chicheria)
  • Date 1931, printed later
  • Medium Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions sheet | 8 x 10 in.
  • Credit line Gift of Laurie Wilson, Robert Frerck, and family, 2015
  • Object number 428.2015
  • Currently on View Works on Paper Gallery

Martín Chambi and Edward Sheriff Curtis
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 11/11/2022

12/10/2015 Received at MLKAM; 12/30/2015 Deed of Gift signed by L. Wilson; 3/31/2016 ACC presentation
Robert Frerck (Chicago, IL)

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