"Just because you feel it,
It does not mean that is there "
YAWAR: The Absence of the Condor
A Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Project in collaboration with Martín Weber and Roberto Huarcaya
Produced with the support of Magnum Foundation
This story, like many, begins with a journey to document and witness a quasi-mythical ritual in the Peruvian Andes: the Yawar Fiesta. This name comes from the novel by Jose M. Arguedas in which Yawar refers to the blood of the many lineages that reflect the stratified Peruvian society. During Independence Day in Peru, bullfights were arranged with condors tied to the bulls’ backs. Traditionally it´s been interpreted as a celebration of resistance of the Incas -symbolized in the Condor- over the conquest -represented by the bull. It would be a bad omen if the condor wouldn’t survive the bull.
"The condor for me is a sacred Apu. The Apu is a living sacred God, the strongest raptors of the Andes of Peru. It represents the Inca rule. It represents the Republic of Peru. The condor is not mistreated here. He is rather venerated, and “adored” as a God. That is why those who capture the condor fear and care for the condor. For me and for the whole community the condor is a sacred bird.”Elisban Montesinos Araujo
Those who defend the now forbidden ritual say that the condor visited the community and that at the end of this celebration, on its returning flight, the condor would carry messages from men to the Apus, mountain deities in the Inca cosmology. They believe that the rocks witness all our secrets and that the earth embodies our blood.
Due to government restrictions the condor was absent this year, so did the core of this mythical ritual and the connection between the community and the Apus. As a chronicle of a Death Foretold, the ritual centered on a pagan bullfight became ordinarily mundane: the bull became more than ever the target, still feeding the illusion and the community with his flesh.
Perhaps we all see different forms of heroism, different forms of Independence and homeland. What was celebrated there supposedly was the independence from the Spanish yoke, but a video shown at the local school by the principal contained clues to the shifting form of colonization: it did not pay homage to the local land and culture, but celebrated military exercises of a homeland on guard, ready to fight, destroy and kill.
Witnessing a drift or abandonment of the Andean spirituality, and the surrender to another form of colonization, we created a fable to evoke the Condor and overcome its physical absence as a tribute to its key role in the celebration. This work aims to help keep alive those unique beliefs that connect us with this world; essential meanings represented in the ritual, that otherwise, may be lost and forgotten.