Thinking collectively transports me to the distant lands of our colonizers and their literature, since about a century and a half ago the three musketeers solemnly in loyalty to the young D’Artagnan, shouted, ‘All for one and one for all’, and in Holland the Dutch motto ‘unity is strength’ encouraged the people to unite in very ancient writings and it is worth mentioning the moral of Aesop’s fable, The old man and his sons, ‘All power is weak, unless it remains united’. Those references must have come from those developed countries to our ears at the time of the conquest, our indigenous ancestors somehow learned how susceptible and vulnerable we are individually.
The Minga, a very old term derived from the Quechua language “minka” means, communal work, agreement between neighbors to do something, a collective act in favor of building or claiming something, in this case, for the territory, for peace and for life. The Indigenous Minga, then, was constituted and united to move to the Colombian capital with the idea of meeting with the Colombian president, Ivan Duque. In colorful and striking buses, about seven thousand indigenous people packed food and supplies for an extensive four-day trip and approximately seven hundred kilometers from their territory to the city of Bogotá. Something really admirable and incredible, a river of color, joy, infected by a force that I can still describe. Men, women and children bound and exalted by the community, populations plagued by violence, some intimidated by armed groups, but all with their heads held high, united to shout loudly: “For my land, for my race.”
In that sense I find displacement, cause and effect interesting, but I prefer to focus fully on movement. Understanding the causes and why this Indigenous Minga is carried out, I let myself be infected by the color of the buses and the massive masses they transport, by their Colombianity that pulls me and identifies also for being Colombian and having been born in the countryside. I then remembered the project ‘Carpoolers’, by Alejandro Cartagena, which definitely set my gaze and questioned me about what kind of photography I am doing and the various possibilities of seeing and observing the world, it made me think about how photography can generate in the viewer different sensations only by changing the point of view in which we see daily. Choose then to approach the project in a different way, as well as the project ‘Carpoolers’ by Alejandro Cartagena, this series operates as a typology, the indigenous communities stripped of their individuality and united in the community, a gigantic Minga that is transported, approximately seven A thousand indigenous people traveling in more or less a hundred colorful buses, something that sometimes exceeds the imagination of many.
Minga, is a series of diptychs, two images united collectively to form one, a description of how an instant happens, a movement and a face that exalts the character, tenacity, nobility and strength of the indigenous communities that resist throughout Latin America since the time of the conquest, leaving a legacy not only to indigenous youth but to all of us who witnessed his incredible movement.
About the experience with Fujifilm
As photographers we have a great responsibility when it comes to telling a story. There are several factors that determine the success of a project, factors such as thinking about how to approach the subject, from where to approach it and who to approach are key to this, as well as the ethics, respect and empathy that is achieved with the characters to be photographed. And it is in empathy where I must pause and refer to the Fujifilm X-T2, a great camera, with incredible quality, definitely thought, not only as a travel camera, but as a camera with indisputable professional capabilities, a camera that combined with a Fujinon XF23mm lens it is the perfect companion when carrying out a photographic project. Part of my work is based on addressing everyday life towards intimacy, themes that are present in every project I do, Minga is no exception. I needed to get closer to the characters, talk to them and portray them in such a way that they expressed what they were feeling in the moment, this is impossible to achieve without empathy, which flows when you have a light camera like the Fujifilm X-T2, a camera that is not introspective, that does not threaten and damages the relationship you are establishing with the character, it is a camera which is present all the time but due to its size it goes unnoticed and does not intimidate, something very valuable to me when taking portraits.
Another very important aspect of the Fujifilm experience and the Minga project is that when defining aesthetics and having Alejandro Cartagena’s ‘Carpoolers’ project as a reference, I had to choose to take aerial photographs. La Minga was not still and was moving 8km to the Plaza de Bolívar located in the center of Bogotá (Colombia), which implied having to travel with them and search for images along the way. To achieve this I had to have a light and easy to carry equipment and I must confess that my back is very grateful to be a X-Photographer and to use Fujifilm cameras. X-T2 and a small drone fit in my backpack without generating any trauma, for this project it was a magic combination that mixes the movement of these masses, so peculiar, and the feelings of a population that raised its voice to demand to be heard.