POLLO DIGHERO | GAUCHOS OF THE CALCHAQUÍ VALLEYS AT THE PROVINCE OF SALTA

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This project is about Gauchos of the Calchaquí Valleys at the Province of Salta, at the North West of the Argentina. To depict the gaucho life, not in those purely external aspects, but in its very essence, and from the point of view of the gaucho himself. These valleys were once inhabited by a number of Indian tribes a region which was part of the Incas Route and the setting of the gauchos’ adventures during the independence wars.

The features of the Calchaquí Gaucho are a clear example of the mixture races of Spanish conquers and Indians. It’s a very closed and distrustful society (Those gauchos are a tribal society, united by blood ties and loyalties that generate lifelong commitments) and live respectful of their ancient customs and traditions and represent one of the last authentic Argentina subcultures. Skillful rider and cattle breeder, the gaucho performs almost all his farm work on horse, an animal that constitutes his best companion. Silent, honorable and courageous, the gaucho takes pride in being who he is.

Their long standing traditions gradually disappear and slowly becoming extinct due to the economic difficulties and the migration of young people to big cities in search of a better future. The land is sterile, poor, and oppressive hot in summer and biting frost in winter and their way of life, forced them to earn their bread with the sweat of their brow. One day, Mario Choque, who is one of the valley’s most revered gauchos, told me: “We are the last indigenous people and there are fewer and fewer of us every time”.

I try to document a life style before disappears and is a homage to those who no fanfare salutes, but with their bones they sowed the Argentine homeland.

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I still live at. I´ve studied Art History at the Museum of Fine Arts. Photojournalism at the Photo Club Buenos Aires and Documentary Photography in the Argentina Association of Photographers. Searching for my path, I´ve travelled for nine months along Asia and that’s how my first contact with photography came along.

In 2004, my photographs on the hunting of whales in the remote island of Lamalera, Indonesia, promoted the chain’s documentary German Television Network: ZDF: “Vermдchtnis eines Walfдngers” and formed the image of the international version of it, entitled “Blood Money “Testimony of the Whaler“, but despite of that brief “success” I was still feeling lost. After a couple of years missing my course the destiny took me to the Valles Calchaquies at the Province of Salta, at the North West of the country, one of the sacred vallies of the American Continent, more precisely in the Pueblo Gaucho del Barríal, and what I’ve finally discovered as my place in the world.