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Preserving 60,000 photographs of Ayacucho

Agnes Rivera

Peruvian photographer Baldomero Alejos spent over 50 years capturing the southern city. Now his grandchildren are sharing his work with the public.

Preserving 60,000 photographs of Ayacucho

(Photo: Archivo Fotografico Baldomero Alejos Facebook)

When it comes to the region of Ayacucho, in southcentral Peru, much is said about the harsh scars left by terrorist group Sendoro Luminoso in the 1980s, yet little is mentioned about what the area was like beforehand.

Peruvian photographer Baldomero Alejos spent over 50 years (1924-1976) capturing images of residents of the Huamanga Province capital, revealing a city once calm and thriving, yet starkly marked by classism. A contemporary of famed Cusco-based portrait artist Martín Chambi, Alejos managed to take over 60,000 black and white photographs that lend testimony to life before terrorism.

Now, 51 years since his death, the grandchildren of Alejos have united to digitize his images in order that they become publicly accessible. Spread out around the globe, from San Francisco, U.S., to Barcelona, Spain, the photographer’s grandchildren are now waiting to adapt their uploading program in order that it can be accessed by internet users. Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center helped the relatives carry out the digitization of the negatives.

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(Photo: Archivo Fotografico Baldomero Alejos Facebook)

An exhibition of 80 of Alejos’ photos was inaugurated earlier this month in Barcelona. Titled “La calma antes de la tormenta” (The calm before the storm), the show will run until February 18 at the Fernandez Jurado de Castelldefels Library.

Lucía Alejos, granddaughter of the photographer and resident of Barcelona, spoke with El Pais newspaper about the damaging effects of terrorism upon the people of Ayacucho, noting that many became displaced during the 80s and 90s, thus losing a part of their identity.

“With this archive [of photos] we want to return them to the previous stage; photography not only builds the family identity, but a social one as well,” comments Lucía.

To read the full interview click here. To see more photos follow Archivo Fotografico Baldomero Alejos on Facebook.

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