International Institute of Photographic Authors

Mario Castillo
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International Institute of Photographic Authors

Mario Castillo


"Presencias" by: Mario Castillo 1995

The beginning

It all started when I tried to follow a dream. My mission was to find a vision showing how transcendental, is the ancestral heritage of Mexico and it's ethnic groups. I must say that the essential element of my work is the human being, ordinary people surrounded by magic and mystery. The pictures presented here were taken between 1990 and 1994. Some of them are from a picturesque small town called Angahuan, in the state of Michoacan, located 332 miles south of Mexico City. Although best known for its proximity to the area where the volcano Paricutin erupted in 1943, Angahuan's real beauty and charm resides in it's people. As heirs of the ancient Tarascan culture, theirs is one of the Mexican regions which has best preserved its pre-Hispanic costumes, traditions and native language Purepecha. Their houses, or "trojes", are mostly made of adobe with tejamanil (shingles) to protect them from the raw winters of the sierra - the mountains. Walking the streets one is given the impression of living in ancient times, in another Mexico. Here, time stands still, preserving its beauty for the world to know.

Another group of pictures was taken in Los Altos de Chiapas, in the southeast of Mexico, a land of rocky volcanic highlands that rises above the clouds to form a majestic setting, home of Izotsil people. Today the region's fiesta season brings many visitors from the mountains and other remote places to the Centro ceremonial. A harmonious relationship with their God's insured through prayers, dances and offering of candles, flowers and incense. Some of the images were captured during the festivities honoring the Santo Patrono (patron Saint) of each community.

And finally, inhabiting the most inhospitable regions of the Baja California Peninsula, are a native people overflowing with pride in their ancient roots. In 1535, when the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortez arrived at the Baja Peninsula, there were 60,000 natives. Today less than 1200 of their descendants remain, living in eight different ethnic groups throughout the Sierra. It's astonishing to observe their way of life. Isolated from the world, they live in solitude, only having each other to share their pride, emotions and hope.

To be part of the legendary cultural richness, of these ethnic groups of Mexico, to penetrate the magical and enigmatic world of their fiestas, to walk among the people - to share their music and chants - have been the most incredible experiences that I, as a photographer have lived.

Thanks to the International Institute of Photographic Authors. (IIPA)

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