Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Market in Cuenca, Ecuador, 1979

Before I ever thought of taking photographs in market places in Colombia I had been three times to Ecuador and in those occasions I was mesmerized by the rich variety of visuals that one can encounter in such places.
More than “encounter” I feel I should call them visual assaults, such is the variety and the unexpected richness of what the traveller can find in that Andean country.
It is impossible not to be overwhelmed by what you see. A million flowers of infinite variation of tones, and an endless array of fruits of amazing colours.

And there is, of course, its people.
If portraiture is what interests you in photography then Ecuador is a tremendous source of material to photograph. I always found the markets the most interesting of all places to visit when I had been travelling through that wonderful country.
The mountains with its vast expanse of green fading into the horizon and the faces of its people have proved irresistible. Any time you stopped anywhere along the road you were surrounded by faces, young and old.

I remember a time in which people used to crowd around you wanting to know where you were coming from and how were things “out there”, meaning abroad or wherever it was you lived. The first time I visited in 1979 I walked around fascinated by the absolute tranquillity of those places, people went about their business without questioning your presence.

This series of images I have recently found hidden in an old envelope and I can vaguely remember printing them sometime in the early eighties in Toronto. They portray the sellers and buyers going about their business with a couple of extra images out of the ordinary. One shows a heavily handicapped man dragging himself through the market asking for alms and the other shows an old man who carries a crucifix from stall to stall collecting money from the sellers as he makes his rounds.
This is a very old tradition in South America and people, more so the poorest, give generously always hoping that divine intercession will help them better their lot.

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