Hi there, I'm Shirak Agresta and welcome to my Kickstarter project, "Celebrating Winter Solstice in the Peruvian Andes", a coffee table photography book. About 10 years ago, I started my love affair with the land and people of Peru. Back then (and again 4 years later) I was spending my time in the Peruvian Amazon working with Ayahuasqueros of the region, starting a documentary film about a school (K-12) built for the impoverished children along a stretch of the Amazon River and building close friendships that I know will last a lifetime. You can see a trailer that project (a work in progress) at: http://www.freespiritfilms.com/videos/TSDAB.mov or at https://vimeo.com/40428417.
Like many, though, I have been drawn to the mysteries and magic of Machu Picchu; the heart of the ancient, Andean culture, Cusco and the surrounding Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Early in June I will be traveling down to see firsthand the heart and soul of Peru during their most sacred time of year, the Inti Raymi festival. Allow me to bring you on this journey through a series of breathtaking photos of stunning vistas, ancient ruins and the still thriving culture of the Incas, both traditional and modern. Help share in this dream of mine by contributing to this exciting project.
So What's This Book About?
In the mid-16th century, the Spanish conquered the most powerful empire in the Americas, making an indelible mark on the Peruvian culture that persists to this day.
The conflict and coalescing of native and invading cultures is an active struggle that informs the modern day identity of the Peruvian people and its landscape. The great Machu Picchu was abandoned and hidden from the Spanish Conquistadors until its reintroduction to the world at the beginning of the 20th century. Since then it has become a major tourist destination and the quintessential image of the Inca's advanced civilization. Today, local authorities struggle with balancing the demands of tourism and the need for preservation.
Similarly, the Inti Raymi festival, or Incan New Year, is several days of rituals, parades and dancing, complete with colorful costumes, music, food and drink honoring the rebirth of the sun god and the mythical origins of the Incan people, celebrated in the city of Cusco around the winter solstice. Replaced by the Christian holiday of St. John the Baptist until the 1940's, the combined festivals are the second largest in all of South America (just behind Carnival in Rio) and are part religious observation, part historical re-enactment and part tourist attraction.
This June, I'll be traveling to Cusco to document in photographs the storied Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, the Inti Raymi and St. John the Baptist festivals and, of course, the warm and hospitable Peruvian people. My intention is to create a coffee table book and travelogue that captures the juxtaposition of old and new, native and colonial, ancient and modern, that continue to shape modern day Peru.
How Will the Funding Be Used?
Many of the travel and lodging expenses as well as the bulk of the trekking/camera equipment has already been paid for out of my own, personal savings. However, this supplemental funding will help to pay for the balance of the travel costs; a few, key equipment upgrades; a Machu Picchu/Huaynu Picchu entry permit; a Peruvian interpreter while I'm in country and, of course, the cost of the photo books production, publishing and distribution. My intention is to create a beautiful, high quality, coffee table book of both color and black and white photos that will capture the spirit of the Andes and document how the traditional and the modern Inca/Peruvian/Spanish culture can enmesh together as well as collide. I hope to share my passion for documentary photography and Peru with you and elicit the same emotions in you that I have felt in my previous travels through this country and my images.
Here are some photos from my previous trips to Peru:
My portraits have been exhibited in various venues in Portland, OR and commissioned for publication by qromag.com, and online music magazine. You can also see my more of my work at: www.shirakagresta.com
So you know, all the photographic prints that are a part of the pledge rewards will be printed on premium, archival format photographic paper.
Thank you so much for taking a look at my project and I hope that it inspires you to pledge your support to me and this book.
- (30 days)