In 1990, Juan Manuel Castro Prieto packed all his black & white gear and photo lab equipment into a flight case weighing more than 200 kilos (440 pounds), and set off for Cuzco where he did magnificent enlargements of shots by Martín Chambi, the great Peruvian master of photography who, for Castro Prieto, is the epitome of authenticity and dedication. Twenty-five years later, some of Chambi’s pictures provided the inspiration for a series of photographic journeys by Castro Prieto. The photos show how his work has developed and matured, and also report on his own personal venture in life through experience and dreams.

Time may appear to stand still in them midst of the ruins, but will then, spontaneously, imperceptibly, merge into everyday life. The characters could be straight out of a novel, the plot elusive, the text yet to be written. Across thousands of photographs, a dream-like atmosphere prevails. Castro Prieto has used real-life situations to depict his dreams. His landscapes and portraits suggest the mythical dimension of voyages through the realms of the imagination. The challenge of the vast and eminently autobiographical project was to see dreams and reality come together.

As Juan Manuel Castro Prieto often says, taking a photo is the ultimate stage in the photographer’s relationship with photography; next come the magnificent prints, pictures with a life of their own. They are all his, but the hypnotic intensity commanding the split second when the shutter button is pressed transforms everything: the photographer becomes the onlooker, a witness to his own life.

Alejandro Castellote

Juan Manuel Castro Prieto

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