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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Alice Smeets Photographs Modern Witchcraft

Belgian documentary photographer Alice Smeets has traveled the world and covered everything from war to famine. However her series on Witchcraft has blown me away! This series captures the life and practices of the modern witchcraft practitioner by pulling back the veil on this ancient yet taboo tradition. Smeets says about this project:

“Modern Witchcraft is practiced across Europe, the USA and the rest of the Western World. It is extremely diverse; with beliefs that range widely from polytheism to animism, to pantheism and other paradigms. The largest movements of this self-termed Neo-Paganism are Wicca and Druidism; the followers of which call themselves Witches or Druids, sharing beliefs of Magic, Witchcraft and Nature’s Power. They respect their environment and celebrate eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year where they praise the divinities of nature. They often hold rituals – called Esbats – on the Full Moon. In part, they return to some of the old Celtic traditions.

While Wicca is a very young religion – formed by Gerald Gardner not more than 50 years ago, its roots are much older than Christianity. It has no relationship to Satanism, which is one of many misconceptions held by the public. Ancient pagan beliefs have begun to make their way into the Neo-Pagan community in many ways, making our spiritual path a very deep one, rooted and grounded in the very earth that supports us. From its origins in England it is now widely spread across Europe, America and the rest of the world. At the present time, Neo-Paganism is a large network of small communities with its own organizations, festivals, magazines, shops, workshops, gatherings and ceremonies. Witches can be found everywhere: in the supermarket, in the streets, as well as in our own neighborhood. And you would not know these Witches unless you were told who they were or were one yourself.”

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