A family in in Zapallal, a squatter settlement on the outskirts of Lima. (Image courtesy of Andrés Marroquín Winkelmann.)
I’ve been marinating in photographer Andrés Marroquín Winkelmann’s latest book Zapallal | Yurinaki for several days — a chronicle of two Peruvian communities that are connected by circumstance and economics, even as they stand worlds apart. Separated by the Andes, Yurinaki sits at the edge of the central Amazon. Zapallal is located on the outskirts of Lima, tucked into the dusty-apocalyptic hills that make up the Peruvian coast.
The latter settlement came into existence in the 1980s, after a series of economic crises and the country’s simmering Internal Conflict led hundreds of thousands of rural Peruvians to migrate to the capital. Many of the residents of Zapallal hail from or are in some way linked to Yurinaki. But they are connected in other ways, too: by poverty, by social class, by their lack of political power.
In these communities, Marroquín Winkelmann finds a rare beauty. A young man sits cinematically in a mototaxi. A cat howls from a rickety wood platform while a pig watches pensively. A little boy plays in a toy car without wheels; he has nowhere to go. Marroquín uses lighting to dramatic effect — even in daylight settings — for images that take on an almost baroque quality in tone and content. (Note the daughter, above, in an almost blessing-like pose with the fly swatter.)
In Peru — a country where nearly one in ten people live in extreme poverty, and nearly one in three live under the poverty line — the lives of the poor can seem almost like an abstract concept. But Marroquín takes the statistics and makes them human, recording dignity where most folks wouldn’t think to look.