Photography Workshop Shipibo-Konibo

Visual conduits of memory with the Shipibo-Konibo youth.
Melanie Dizon
February 12, 2023

SHIPIBO-KONIBO YOUTH | Photography workshop

This video is part of the Xapiri Ground series of self-documentation workshops facilitated by our NGO team members using instant photography as the visual medium.

For this workshop we visited the Indigenous community of Bena Jema (Pucallpa, Peru) to work with the youth in capturing scenes from their quotidian life. There were three groups guided by our team members, each with their designated themes from which the students were to capture their visual narratives. At the end of the photo session, the students would present their collective works and the photographic experience of each in creating these conduits of memory.

Photo: Jack Wheeler (Xapiri Ground)


by Davis Torres (a participating workshop leader from Xapiri Ground)

David and Davis en route to Bena Jema / Photo: Jack Wheeler (Xapiri Ground)

Xapiri Ground had been planning a photography workshop with the Shipibo youth for a few months now, with the intention of motivating them to express their environment with a tool that is the camera without fear of describing that which they wanted to show. What we did first was to conduct a survey in Yarinacocha for young people who were interested in participating in the workshop, with the collaboration of David Díaz Gonzales, who was our bridge to find the place and make the call to the local young people.

David Díaz Gonzales at Bari Wesna / Photo: Davis Torres (Xapiri Ground)

Upon arriving in Yarinacocha and obtaining the space from Bari Wesna, we focused on connecting with the youth in order to achieve the intended goal to inspire them, introducing them to Xapiri Ground and the photography workshop. The method for the workshop was to group them into three groups of three, along with photographers David Díaz Gonzales, Tui Anandi and myself Davis Torres, who were in charge of guiding them through the use of the Fuji Instax camera and the development of their story.

Tui Anandi with his group / Photo: Davis Torres (Xapiri Ground)

Each group brainstormed ideas to produce their distinct stories, whether they were about daily life, their neighborhood, their culture, or their textiles made by their families. When deciding the main theme, that is to say that each group had a main theme to do, each student expressed a different perspective of the same theme, which was interesting because of the explanation they shared at the end of the workshop.

Photo: Jack Wheeler (Xapiri Ground)

Photo: Davis Torres (Xapiri Ground)

Photo: Davis Torres (Xapiri Ground)

At the end of the photo session, we went to the library of Bari Wesna with the intention of showing the finished work and the explanation of the photo session, coinciding with the photographic experience of each child.

Photo: Davis Torres (Xapiri Ground)

Wesna Daniela, part of the group led by Tui Anandi remarks:

̈What I wanted to show with each photo is the daily life of the community of Bena Jema, children playing, dirt streets and painted walls. This is Bena Jema¨

Wesna with Tui / Photo: Davis Torres (Xapiri Ground)

Photo: Davis Torres (Xapiri Ground)

Group Theme / Photo: Davis Torres (Xapiri Ground)

To have been part of the workshop as a guide in my group, was a privilege, it was something fascinating and very sensitive, how young people are ready to show their world and learn from the photographic art, showing with a simplicity and with eyes that observe everything that happens in their environment. For me it is a way to communicate and tell a real story so that young people can connect with photography, it is a way to portray their history, their community, their art, their environment, their life. It's a small example that photography can connect with everyone no matter where we come from.

Workshop group / Photo: Xapiri Ground


These original recordings and photography are an ongoing part of our many visits to Indigenous communities and the creative workshops that we share amongst the youth.
This project was realized on February 23, 2022 and was made possible through the support of David Díaz Gonzales, Bari Wesna and the community of Bena Jema in Pucallpa, Ucayali, Peru.
Support this project so that we may continue to bridge worlds through art and creative media.

Workshop Leaders: David Díaz Gonzales, Tui Anandi, Davis Torres, Jack Wheeler
Video edition: Melanie Dizon
Photography: Davis Torres, Jack Wheeler

© Xapiri Ground 2023. All rights reserved.