These photographs were taken during a field exploration conducted on a residency curated by Rodolfo Andaur ‘Dipositivo 2/Plataforma Editable’. The residency invites artists and curators to respond to the Atacama Desert.
Guano provides a rich source of fertilizer. For centuries, guano and the birds that produce it played a crucial role in the cultural activities of indigenous communities of Latin America, who were concerned with the fertility of the land and sea. During the industrial revolution, guano helped the increasing farming intensive needs in many parts of the earth as well as the imperial aspirations of European power. The appropriation of guano deposits was the main reason of the first international conflict of the industrial age fought almost entirely over a natural resource, the War of Pacific (1879-84).
These remote extractive geographies witnessed the suicides committed by hundreds of Cantonese slaves because of harsh working conditions of the working environment. Today, instead of guano, workers from Peru and Bolivia collect ‘huiros’, an algae which is exported mainly to Asian Markets, such as China and Japan for the cosmetic and food industries.
Chanavaya, Ruta 1, Province of Tarapacá, Chile. (2014)