Tinku, traditional fighting in Bolivia

A project by Francesco Alesi & Jesper Klemedsson.

At 4,000 meters of altitude, in the Bolivian Andes, life is a constant struggle.

Here, descendants of the Incas still live from the fertile soil of the mountains. But it takes more than just ancient skills for to have a good harvest: according to the people of the Andes, once a year Mother Earth (Pachamama) demands the sacrifice of human blood to be fertilized.

During thousands of years indigenous people have venerated Pachamama. Therefore, every year, in the beginning of May, the quechuas gather in the Potosi region of southern Bolivia for sacred fist fights during the Tinku ceremony.

Every drop of blood is seen as a sacrifice for the coming harvest. Every dead man is guarantee. Even to this day none is legally responsible if a death happens during the fights. The death is seen as a natural event.

According to some anthropologists Tinku, traditionally, was just a peaceful gathering between various local communities. It was after the Spanish colonization that Tinku was transformed into some sort of Roman circus where the indigenous population was forced to fight as entertainment for the Spanish.

The Tinku project is a collaborative work with my friend and collegue Jesper Klemedsson. Why did we shoot with mobile phones? Actually, me and Jesper were in Bolivia filming a documentary about Tinku published on Aljazeera.

Among cameras, tripods, microphones, headphones and stuff, if we had a free finger, we pushed the red dot on the smartphone, just to have a memoir of what we were doing. Watching at that photos before falling asleep in the night, we relized that with phones we were able to have a closer perspective of the story. So, we decided to take it seriously and that's how this project came out.

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Published on Internazionale (Italy)