Juanita the Ice Maiden
Juanita was discovered in September 1995 near the summit of Mt Ampato by an expedition led by American archeologist Johan Reinhard. (Ampato is a dormant 6,288-metre (20,630 ft) stratovolcano in the Andes of southern Peru, about 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Arequipa.) A nearby volcano, Sabancaya, was erupting at the time and the resulting hot volcanic ash melted the snowcap near the summit of Ampato, revealing the bundle containing the frozen mummified body.
The fast melting ice caused most of the Inca burial site, including the body, to collapse down into a gully that led into the crater. As a result, part of the mummy’s clothing was slightly damaged, as was part of Juanita’s face that was exposed to the air. They also found many items that had been left as offerings to the Inca gods strewn about the mountain slope down which the body had fallen. These included statues and food items. A couple of days later, the body and the items were transported to Arequipa. The frozen mummy was named ‘Juanita’ after Johan Reinhard (this is the Spanish, feminine version of his name).
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Peruvians that go about an ordinary morning routine may scoff at the idea of someone finding value in its documentation. However, that is exactly where artist Alfredo Alcalde finds the inspiration for his work.
Alcalde, a Peruvian artist born in Chimbote in 1961, who graduated with a Special Mention from the Escuela Nacional Autónoma de Bellas Artes, is currently presenting his work in exhibition called Eros y Tánatos.
Here, he transmits his very particular vision about life and death while human beings are portrayed as ordinary, affectionate people whose flaws and mistakes lead to the ultimate tragedy of suicides, terrorist attacks and lack of principles. Alcalde said that he finds himself of those people that are the subject of his work.
However, as Alcalde works to improve his relationship with the viewing public, he acknowledges that existence isn’t entirely made up of “ordinary” events. He sees his own works as a merger of “symbolic realism” with characters inspired by a “wave of expressionists” he come from and the “figurative artists” he now associates with.