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PORTFOLIO

02.08.2019

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In 1982, Antonio Perechú founded the Club Deportivo Social Xejuyup (CDS Xejuyup) soccer club in his home country of Guatemala. His idea was to strengthen the indigenous identity of his people by using traditional Mayan garments for the players' outfits. The Italian photographer Daniele Volpe spent a week with the soccer-enthusiastic people of Xejuyup, around 100 kilometres west from Guatemala City.

LFI: What was the initial idea behind your project?

Daniele Volpe: I stumbled across an article in the Guatemalan media, that spoke about a “folkloric soccer team”. I was curious and decided to travel there to investigate further. To my surprise, however, it had to do with a lot more than just extravagant sportswear: what was much more interesting was the background to the whole story – the connection to the colonial past and the relationship to Guatemala's present story.

So what role does the team's outfits play?

A big one. Antonio Perechú, who founded the club, wanted his team to reflect the respect and the community within the indigenous people of Guatemala. The coxtar (skirt), the kutin (shirt) and the pas (sash) have meanings that are closely linked to the traditional Mayan view of the world. The colours, the embroidery and the patterns reveal the relationship between people, nature and the elements.

What impression did you get of the people?

Guatemala has 23 ethnic Mayan groups, each with their own culture and language. These people are the reason, in fact, that I began to work as a photographer, and I continue to work on this. Just like in other places in Guatemala, I felt very good in Xejuyup.

All images on this page: © Daniele Volpe
Equipment: Leica M (Typ 240) with Summilux-M 35 f/1.4
© Emanuele Satolli

Daniele Volpe

Born in 1981, Daniele Volpe is an award-winning Italian documentary photographer, who has been living in Guatemala since 2007. Above all, his pictures explore issues such as human rights or social injustice in Latin America. He wants to tell a type of very human story, that defines Guatemalan society. He works as a photographer with humanitarian organisations such as UNICEF, UNHCR and IKRK.

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