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This series of photographs was taken in the Atacama desert, in northern Chile. At the end of the nineteenth century, saltpetre deposits led to development of the industry; a mass influx of workers formed unique communities and fomented industrial disputes that were suppressed. The closure of the mines left ghost towns behind, with the exception of Pozo Almonte, which is neighbour to a large, active and well-kept cemetery.
The systematic framing accentuates the typology but underscores the singularity of each edifice, built as they are of a diverse variety of materials, some left unadorned, some prettified, carefully fitted out; an architect-less architecture whose realisations are part modernist house, part family chapel, part beach hut, part cot. Also these DIY mausoleums stand as testimony to a culture: lengthy visits to the deceased are an ordinary part of life and evoke the military dictatorship’s victims, of whom many have no resting place. Thus, the personal appropriation of formal norms, through these astonishing tombs, reflects the participation in History of anonymous individuals.
33 photographs
Lightjet print on silver paper
40x60cm each
edition of 5 and 3AP

Production: Jeu de Paume (Paris), Maravills (Barcelona)


Pozo almonte. IAC. Lyon 2008