A South American transplant explores his adopted home through its indigenous festivals
(Ivan Kashinsky) Kashinsky's original reason for venturing south was to learn more about — and photograph, of course — the festivals and traditions of the Ecuadorian Andes. He found plenty of material."We looked for fiestas in remote pueblos that held on to ancient customs and weren't bombarded by tourists," Kashinsky explains. "Later, as we began to travel more, we extended the project into Bolivia and Peru, whose fiestas are similar to those of Ecuador."
(Ivan Kashinsky) The project was equally fascinating for Gachet, who is Ecuadorian but had traveled to the United States for college (she met Kashinsky while both were studying photojournalism at San Jose State University)."I think when we came back to Ecuador, it was a chance (for Karla) to rediscover her own country, with new eyes, and through the lens of a camera," Kashinsky says.
(Karla Gachet) Kashinsky says he has been struck by the resilience of indigenous cultures, despite Spain's conquest of many parts of South America."Pagan rituals, based in nature and the agricultural calendar, have been woven into the (Spanish-introduced) Catholic holidays," he writes on the project's site. "Creating a syncretism impossible to untangle."
(Ivan Kashinsky) While all of the fiestas the photographer has visited were memorable experiences, some do stick out more than others — and not all are so easy for the self-described former "surfer kid out of California" to accept."Covering a Yawar Fiesta was both exhilarating and disturbing," Kashinsky says. "To be that close to a wild condor was amazing, but the way the condor was treated and the idea of capturing it and tying it to the back of a bull is outrageous and barbaric. We felt terrible for the poor bird, which was in a panic, wrapped in confusion."
(Ivan Kashinsky) Perhaps the biggest surprise, Kashinsky says, is that what began as a foreign research project turned into a home."There was never an 'aha' moment (to stay in Ecuador)," Kashinsky says. "But we've learned so much about Latin America during these travels, had so many different tastes and experiences."And while both Kashinsky and Gachet are currently focused on other photography assignments, there is no end date to the fiestas project, he says. After all, there are plenty more parties to visit.
(Karla Gachet) **See more of Ivan Kashinsky's work on his website, and follow him on Instagram. See more of Karla Gachet's work on her website, and follow her on Instagram. Visit the couple's photography collective, and follow the group on Instagram**