Susana Raab artist statement:
Cholita: Cholo. This loaded term is first recorded in Garcilaso de la Vega's Commentarios Reales de los Incas and is used to identify the offspring of native and black parents. The original meaning signifies a dog of disreputable origin, and was used by the colonial Spaniards as an insult. Today in Peru, cholo, or its masculine or feminine diminutive (cholito/cholita) is a common phrase with positive or negative connotations depending upon it's context and reflects the complex but unstated socio-economic rules by which modern day Peru continues to abide. I began this work in progress as an anthropological look at Peru, starting on the coast, to dispel the common stereotype of the country as a quaint locale filled with poncho-wearing natives leading llamas down mountain paths and to find my own place within it. I also wanted to give voice to the Peruvian under-class, the cholos sin plata, whose representation in modern society is often portrayed as stupid and unsavory. Born in Peru to a Peruvian father, from whom I was estranged from most of my life, Peru has always been an enigmatic talisman; a key piece of a fractured identity. So I seek to broaden my own understanding of my country of origin - to find how, if at all, I relate to this master puzzle. "We are two Perus," a friend of mine often says. My face is white, but I feel more comfortable around the cholos sin plata, who are sometimes more open and embracing of me. As a cholita gringa I cannot reconcile myself to the two Perus. We are all cholita, half-breeds born to an original Ur mother. Yes, cholita es bonita.
Susana Raab has always a colorful, at times funny and approachable way of dealing with themes such as a PETA protest and it this case race. The first photo is a winner for me and a YES!
Photos by Susana Raab entries for Photolucida's Critical Mass 2009
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