A. Escandón & Y. Gross

Text: courtesy of Arguiñe Escandón & Yann Gross.


Initiated by the discovery of a series of enigmatic postcards from the early 20th century attributed to Charles Kroehle, a pioneer of photography in the Peruvian Amazon who mysteriously disappeared, Arguiñe Escandón and Yann Gross’s “Aya” combines historical research on the creation of the Amazonian imaginary at the time of the rubber boom era with a sensory immersion in the dense vegetation of the jungle, structured by shamanic experiences.


Through rituals and diets, vagueness, anxiety and contemplation of the forest replace the certainties of an anthropocentric world.


Fascinated by botany, the artists have been studying medicinal plants and their photosensitive properties for several years in collaboration with Asháninka and Cocama communities in Peru.


In order for the Amazonian forest to reveal itself, part of their photographic prints are made in situ from organic emulsions extracted from indigenous plants.

Aya, which means spirit, ghost or corpse in the Kichwa language, is presented by sociologist Joel Vacheron as “a story of an experiential initiation with the plants, signs, and spirits that permeate the Amazonian jungle. We are not the only ‘we’ (Kohn) and this project can be viewed as an anthropological approach to thinking of the human based on the signs and the forces that go beyond it. By interweaving the narrative threads belonging to several temporalities, this account places on equal footing the symbiotic relationships that are woven between co-existing entities, living or dead. […] Aya relates apparitions that, beyond human consciousness, pass through different bodies: human, plant or mystical. The environment reveals itself in its entirety, like a ghostly apparition, halfway between opacity and transparency, between fears and expectations”.

During the time spent in the Peruvian Amazon for their project Aya, the artists worked with indigenous communities to identify photosensitive plants from which they extracted the juice. The organic emulsion was then used, in reaction to sunlight, to capture the very ecosystem from which it was extracted. All prints were made in the Amazon Rainforest.

A. Escandón & Y. Gross

Arguiñe Escandón’s images oscillate between reality and fiction. They usually deal with topics related to psychology, emphasizing the processes of rehabilitation and inner transformation. Her work has received numerous recognitions such as the Ministry of Culture Grant at the College of Spain in Paris, Europe Futures Photography through Photoespaña or a nomination for the Prix Elysée.


Yann Gross explores, often in an offbeat way, how humanity shapes its environment and develops a sense of identity. His images regularly deal with the construction of the photographic imaginary and a means of escape. Apart from “Aya”, he has published three other books, “Horizonville”, “Kitintale” and “The Jungle Book”.