Martin Weber | Yawar, the Absence of the Condor: A Chronicle of a Death Foretold


Country of origin: Chile
Project location: Argentina
Program: Magnum Foundation Fund
Year: 2018

This story begins with a journey to document and witness a quasi-mythical ritual in the Peruvian Andes: the Yawar Fiesta. During Independence Day in Peru, bullfights were arranged with condors tied to the bulls’ backs. Traditionally it has been interpreted as a celebration of resistance of the Inca - 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.

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, the mountain deities in the Inca cosmology.

As a chronicle of a death foretold, the ritual without the condor centered on a pagan bullfight and became ordinarily mundane: the bull became more than ever the target, still feeding the illusion and the community with his flesh. 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. 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.