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Maker(s):Bridges, Marilyn
Culture:American (1948 - )
Title:Machu Picchu, Peru
Date Made:1989
Materials:gelatin silver print
Place Made:Peru; Machu Picchi
Measurements:sheet: 16 in x 20 in; 40.64 cm x 50.8 cm; image: 14 3/4 in x 18 3/4 in; 37.465 cm x 47.625 cm
Narrative Inscription:  title, copyright, signature and date in pencil on verso: Machu Picchu / (c) Marilyn Bridges 1989
Accession Number:  SC 2009.49.13
Credit Line:Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

aerial view of very tall mountains with ruins nestled in the center

Label Text:
In 1976, during a trip to see the Nazca lines of Peru, Marilyn Bridges flew in a small plane for the first time and has not taken photographs in the same way since. Though her subjects include rural landscapes as well as cityscapes, the focus of the majority of her photographs is sites of ancient ruins. With Nazca as her initial inspiration, Bridges went on to photograph famous remnants of cultures long since vanished, such as the Pyramids of Giza and Machu Picchu. This image of that Incan mountain city is an exemplar of Bridges’ distinctive style. Her use of black and white casts the ruins, which are highlighted by the sun, in stark contrast with the darker shadows of the jungle-covered mountains. Shot from the open window of a plane, the photograph is distant enough to give the viewer an idea of the scale of both the village and its surroundings but is close enough to avoid reducing the subject to an abstraction. With her use of such a wide, focused shot, Bridges contextualizes the remains of Machu Picchu by exposing it at a new and captivating angle that reminds us of mountains even more ancient than ruins. Saraphina Masters, Smith College, Class of 2017, ARH 292: Collecting the Past: Art and Artifacts of the Ancient Americas. Additional writing on this object can be found at
Paper + People the Cunningham Center Blog.

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