MADRID.- Espaciofoto gallery
shows "Mennonites" by Miguel Bergasa, a photographic project that has taken 23 years to complete. The exhibition will be open until April 30, 2014. Miguel Bergasa traveled for the first time to the new Durango Mennonite colony in Paraguay in May 1988. The discovery of this community of European origin settled in an area far away from civilization, where lifestyle deletes the 21st century commodities, made Bergasa return again in 2003 and 2011, to check whether there had been a change in their concepts of life. The exhibition includes 28 images that show us the Mennonite community over the years. It's copies in black and white printing by Juan Manuel Castro Prieto.
Miguel Bergasa was born in Pamplona and started in photography in the mid-1970s. For a period of ten years he lived in the Spanish capital, Madrid where he contacted with several photographic circles: universitary forums, Redor and Photocentro galleries, Royal Photographic Society, etc. In 1983 he began travelling to Latin America, visiting Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Cuba, Chile, Uruguay, Panama and Mexico, where he made various photo shoots, including the life of the Mennonites in Paraguay or butchers aircraft's pilots in Bolivia. He collaborated with several magazines and coordinated the elaboration of documentaries for television. At the same time he increased its portfolio of black and white images. Since then he has made numerous individual and group exhibitions, both inside and outside Spain.
Nueva Durango's Mennonites
If it were not because they do not step in pursuit of the promised land, nor seek a homeland in which settle definitely, would have many points in common with the Jews. Like them, they believe they are God's chosen people, but unlike the wandering Jewish, they do not proselytize their ideas; hardly know each other -communication between their colonies is small-, and carry an identical, austere existence similar to that one preached by the first followers of Menno Simons, -the ideologist of this religious community who was born after the reformation of Luther in 16th Century's Europe- from who they have taken their name.
Since then their settlements are provisional and its history is that of a long escape. Always leave the countries where they can not carry out their ideas or they feel under pressure. First they left from what today are the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, although they retain the ethnic features and language, a dialect of German. They went to Russia, which would abandon centuries later, to go to the United States and Canada. The religious spirit of the Mennonites collided head-on with the ideas emanating from the October revolution and many died. Since then--and despite a completely lack of political ideas-, has survived in them a fear for communism. Today, they are established in Mexico, Belize, Bolivia and Paraguay and live in small colonies, whose exact location rarely reflect the maps of the country; far from the big roads and the populated areas.