In his series “El Muqui,” Paccarik Orue takes viewers on a journey to Cerro de Pasco, a city in the Peruvian Andes that sits atop vast mineral deposits. “‘El Muqui’ is a folkloric character in the Andean mines who is highly respected, even feared, by miners, and has a strong moral code,” Orue writes in his artist’s statement. “Popular tales talk about how is aware of the miners’ desires and actions, but also playful with children.”
Orue’s images depict daily life in Cerro de Pasco, over which the spirit of El Muqui presides. The character is at “the center of many celebrations and traditions” in the town, Orue explains.
The project gave the Peruvian-born photographer a chance to reconnect with his heritage, he writes, and an opportunity to “give people, like the inhabitants of Cerro de Pasco, a voice that they do not [otherwise] have.” According to Orue, the Peruvian government plans to move the city of 80,000. “This project documents a city that will cease to exist as it is today,” he says.
Orue’s work is currently showing at Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco through September 18, as part of the center’s artist-in-residence exhibition.
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