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Martín Chambi

Campesinos en el juzgado, Cusco (Campesinos in court, Cusco)

1929, printed later

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Although its exact context is unknown, this image may depict claimants pursuing a case for Indigenous land title against hacendados, owners of agricultural estates. Many Indigenous Peruvians labored at such estates under exploitative conditions into the early twentieth century. Martin Chambi’s working period coincided with the second presidential term of Augusto B. Leguía, 1919 to 1930, which saw rural labor uprisings, infrastructure modernization, increased social mobility, and Peru’s first bureau of Indigenous affairs. During this period some Indigenous people were able to recover expropriated land through legal channels. Although it ostensibly captures a moment of empowerment, Chambi’s photograph communicates discomfort and tension through jarring distinctions—the inattentive postures of government functionaries and the direct gazes of claimants, the florid carpet and the bare feet. [Permanent collection label, 2022]

  • Artist Martín Chambi (Peruvian, 1891–1973)
  • Title Campesinos en el juzgado, Cusco (Campesinos in court, Cusco)
  • Date 1929, 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 431.2015
  • 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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