Ambivalent Photographs Of Bolivian Witchcraft Reveal The Clash Between Tradition And Modernity

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In their book Waska Tatay, French photographer Thomas Rousset and graphic designer Raphael Verona document the cryptic reality of Bolivian witchcraft. During their trip to the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Rousset and Verona encountered the magical world of shamanism, spiritual healers and ancient mythology. Their book exposes the collision between old and new, mystical and mundane, spiritual and physical.

The ambivalence of Waska Tatay begins from a first glance. Book’s abstract cover of fading yellows and blues is contrasting with the actual matter. The clash continues throughout Rousset and Verona’s style of photography, which is tossing between reportage and staged portraiture. Finally, the grotesque ambiguity reaches its top when the subjects in all their ritual garments are photographed in their mundane surroundings. This incoherence between content and form exposes the viewer to the grim reality of tradition in today’s world.

“We decided to mix two languages: one very staged and those that are very snapshot. We mixed a lot to create ambiguity for the reader, in knowing what’s real and what’s fiction.”

Rousset and Verona claims to have tried to zoom the old fashioned world into today’s reality. The picture of a Bolivian girl standing in a tree is an iconic example of their idea: “You could see that the girl is a witch, trying to talk with divinities or evils but her voice to God is replaced by a cell phone,” says Verona. According to the photographers, what they witnessed in Bolivia was a sense of magical realism which they wanted to broadcast to the viewer. The book Waska Tatay is available on IDPURE. (via Wired)

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