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Juan Manuel Castro Prieto April 6, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Vanuatu.

Vanuatu, 2005

Juan Manuel Castro Prieto (b. 1958, Spain) is a scientist by training and a lover of photography. He has managed to combine his passions and become one of the most aware, demanding and subtle European photographers. After having, created prints from original glass plates by Martin Chambi he developed a passion for Peru. Ten years later, he crossed the country on a “journey to the sun”, allowing himself to portray his tenderness for the people and beauty of the landscape. He has also worked with color, recently, using highly personal tonality which, from Ethiopia and India, has allowed him to create visions which are both mental and based on a troubling realism, a form of travel, between dream and reality. He is represented by Agence Vu in Paris.

About the Photograph:

“Vanuatu comprises 80 islands in the Pacific ocean and has been independent since 1980. It is now a parliamentary republic of 200,000 inhabitants. The British navigator James Cook was the first European to set foot on the big southern island of Tanna in August 1774, attracted by the red light of the volcano of mount Yasur which dominates the village of Ipeukel, where the ones called “John Frum” gather. ”

“The story of this strange worship starts with the war in the Pacific, when the Americans arrive in the archipelago in May 1942, as the Japanese just conquered the Salomon islands nearby. The culture shock was huge, as the GI’s gave out clothes, beds, refrigerators. At the end of the war, the Americans left as quickly as they arrived, leaving behind some of their equipment. John Frum (John from America) remains a symbol of the generous- a black-soldier who went back to his world in a cargo and is supposed to return on a great ship filled with extraordinary objects. Today, every Friday night, under the protective branches of a huge banyan tree the women dance, dressed in colorful skirts, and the men sing, playing the guitar, to celebrate the return of this mythical American. On this bay surrounded by smoking cliffs, the stars and stripes still flutter.”


1. Babe - April 6, 2009

I feel like the caption doesn’t tell us anything about this specific photograph. It’s an amazing shot, but I’d like to know more about it =)

2. Geoffrey Hiller - April 7, 2009

It’s part of the ceremony for “John Frum”.

I wasn’t able to establish direct contact with him as is the case with 95 % of the photographers showcased on Verve. Hopefully Juan or his agency will see this and further clarify. Make sure to follow the link to see more of his work. It is very original….

3. James - May 4, 2009

The photograph is amazing visually. However, I feel confused. I can understand the ceremony. I served in the US military during the beginning days of the occupation in Iraq. Building the relationship with the local population is an important act. I guess I never really considered the after effects we have on the population once we leave. It makes me wonder how we are seen in other places our military has gone then left.

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