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Planet Peru: An Aerial Journey through a Timeless Land.

In this beautiful black and white photographic essay, Marilyn Bridges captures the amazing contrast that suffuse the Peruvian landscape, where relics of ancient civilizations are juxtaposed with the icons or modern society. In one photograph, for example, a truck races down the Pan American Highway, cutting across a plane graced with geoglyphs, including a 600-foot lizard. In another, geoglyphs appear in a plateau alongside political graffiti touting the APRA. Other photographs taken in desolate areas show a storage tank with an advertisement for the popular soft drink Inca Kola, and another for men's clothing.

Bridges often achieves maximum effect by placing photographs of the old and the new on facing pages. Thus, a cinder-block factory lies opposite La Centinela, or Tambo de Mora, the ancient Inca administrative seat in the Chincha Valley. The second of these two photos shows pyramids and platform structures that predate Inka occupation by hundreds of years.

In another series of photographs, Bridges captures the imposing beauty of Machu Picchu - the graceful, undulating terraces, the fine masonry of the religious precinct, the massive defensive walls. The view of Machu Picchu, surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Andres, expresses better than words the inaccessibility and sacred nature of the location. Shantytowns the characterize certain areas of modern Peru provide a brutal contrast with these scenes.

By using aerial instead of ground photography, Bridges captures vast panoramas that show the past and present in conjuction.

A point the Bridges stresses both in her Afterword and her photographs is the perfect integration of the pre-Columbian communities with their natural surroundings." . . . I do believe that in the past man was more in touch with natural order of the planet," writes Bridges. "Indigenous peoples regarded their land as a living part of the universe. . ."

Bridges began her exploration of Peru in 1976, when she photographed for the first time the gigantic geoglyphs drawn on the desert surrounding Nazca. Since then, she returned to Peru eight times in order to photograph these monumental sketches. With the help of a grant from the Fullbright Foundation, she then began to explore the remains of other Indian civilizations. This book represents the cultimination of her efforts.

The text by John Hyslop contributes immeasurably to the reader's understanding of the historical context. Hyslop's commentary includes a discussion of Inca society, technology and religion. The Afterword by Marilyn Bridges not only elucidates the pilot-photographer's objectives, but brings to life the excitement and danger of aerial photography.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Organization of American States
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Mujica, Barbara
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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