Memories of Peru exhibit
These images felt relatable, but still so distant from the Canadian reality many members of the public might know. Photo: Desiree Nikfardjam/Fulcrum
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Limited exhibit at OAG explores various aspects of Peruvian culture and traditions

On Nov. 11, the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) welcomed a new exhibition titled Memory of Peru: Photograph 1880 – 1950. The exhibit explores the geographic areas of Peru, as well as the rich culture and traditions of the Peruvians. 

Featuring a variety of artists, the collection of photographs tells a story of love, loss, religion, labour, and class struggles. 

The entire exhibit allows audiences to submerge into the history of Peru and to appreciate the different struggles and identities of people in living lives different from our own.

An image of a man and his family sitting on top of his potato crop shows the hard work of locals, while another photograph of a high society luncheon illustrated the contrast in class status of the Peruvian peoples over a 70-year time span. 

Many of the images reminded me of my own cultural heritage. As an Iranian-Canadian, I know the stories of my country mostly through photographs from my grandparents. This exhibit really allowed me to appreciate Peruvian cultural heritage, as well as my own.

Another section of the collection showed a couple photographed together. The image was titled “A Couple in Love.” Across from it was a photo of four people sitting together on a bench inside a courthouse.

The beautiful part of this collection was the placement of each photo. The exhibit’s audience will not be bored, since every photo shows a different event and aspect of Peruvian culture.

There were multiple images of children at school, either posing outside their school with their class or sitting inside a classroom. These images felt relatable, but still so distant from the Canadian reality many members of the public might know. 

I’m sure we all know the feeling of preparing for a class photo. These images have a sense of nostalgia in them, even though we don’t know the people being photographed.

While many images showed different people on special occasions, or just in their day-to-day lives, the collection also included photographs of the geographical area, such as an aerial shot of Machu Picchu, and images of the Andes mountains.

There were many photos of celebrations, such as a group photo of small children wearing all white at their first communion. Another image on the opposite side of the room showed women performing a dance at the anniversary of their school. 

The Ambassador of Peru to Canada, Roberto Rodriquez Arnillas, gave a speech at the opening of the exhibit on Nov. 12th. 

“Through these images, we can appreciate the majesty of the Andes, contrasted with the great monuments of our Inca empire past, ancestral customs that are interlaced with contemporary aspirations, the advance of the capitalist economy and the social conflict of Peruvian society,” said Ambassador Arnillas.

The exhibit closed Sunday, Nov. November 14th. For more information, visit here