Ruta del Sol

Ruta del Sol, by Frank Gaudlitz, Hatje Cantz, €39.80. 

Frank Gaudlitz lives and works in Potsdam. Having studied photography under Arno Fischer from 1987 to 1991 at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, Gaudlitz has received many national and international cultural grants. His work can be seen in major photography collections in Germany and he has mounted numerous solo shows both in Germany and abroad. On his journey through South America, Gaudlitz followed an important historical route in his attempt to photograph important sites from the 1799 research expedition undertaken by Alexander von Humboldt (the Berlin-born naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist, Wilhelm von Humboldt), who laid the foundations of the study of bio-geography. Without knowing it at first, Humboldt traveled twelve hundred kilometers across the Andes along the Incan Ruta del Sol (Way of the Sun). Starting at the Rio Mayo in Columbia, then crossing Ecuador with its breathtaking volcanoes Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, and finally approaching Trujillo in northern Peru, Gaudiltz captured stunning photos of sites along this historical route. Besides black-and-white images of landscapes, dotted with roads, rivers and small villages, Gaudlitz also took portraits of the local peoples, exposing a multi-faceted image of contemporary society – from indigenous peoples in their simple huts and houses, to the wealthy elite in Quito, capital of Ecuador. The real charm of Gaudlitz’s book lies in its unexpected dual readings. Not only does it bring you into the lives of the people the photographer encounters, but each subject is also giving back something very intimate to Gaudlitz. Their eyes speak the truth. This is the point at which a photographer becomes great.

- H.M.