El Cipitio

Studio Lenca

Following an international open call to early-career photographers, Studio Lenca has been selected as the winner of the Photo Fringe OPEN20 SOLO by a panel of photography experts.

Photo Fringe is proud to present a new work made specially for this festival website, developed in collaboration with James Wreford of Black Shuck Collective and mentored by Sam Mercer, Producer Digital Programme, The Photographers’ Gallery and Kay Watson, Digital Curator, Serpentine Galleries.

Los Historiantes is Studio Lenca’s ongoing photographic performance work, creating self-portraits dressed as an Historiante – a Salvadoran folk dancer, mixing traditions brought over by Iberian conquistadors during the colonisation of the Americas with Pre-Columbian beliefs. These dancers are to Studio Lenca an embodiment of an archive of trauma with contemporary resonance.

“I've never walked into a gallery and seen anyone that looks like me” says Jose, “Los Historiantes is about asking a question about the absence from our curriculum, which artists are missing from museums and galleries and why? How can we allow colonisation to continue to erase cultures? The exhibition is a starting point for making new work collectively to imagine a more equal future.”

This new digital work, elcipitio, is named after a mythical figure of Salvadoran folklore, from a Nahuati word for child. Jose says “I believe the trajectory Salvadoran people and many Central American nations have taken stem back to ancient histories, specifically the colonisation of the Americas by European colonisers. This postcolonial intergenerational trauma is present to this day and can be seen in public discourse of Latinx communities, especially in the U.S.”

In its own virtual museum, Studio Lenca's images from the Los Historiantes series and submissions from the #losthistories Instagram hashtag take centre stage on the webpages of major UK museums and galleries. This serves as a critique of the stiff curation of major institutions and their lack of representation of Latinx artists. The images then break free of the shackles of the institution and take on a life of their own.

You can navigate the work in the first part by clicking on the images and then once in the second part, you can intuitively find your own way to choreograph the images. If you click on an image the others will dance around it. Hover over images to read the captions.

Open Call for Participation
Studio Lenca invites you to contribute your own lost histories by sharing your images to Instagram using the hashtag #losthistories.

Listen to Studio Lenca in conversation with Patricio Majano, Curator and Leader at Y.ES Contemporary, El Salvador here.

You can read an interview with the artist here.

For the Photo Fringe 2020 Launch, Studio Lenca devised a performance featuring dancer Tiago Gambogi. In true El Salvadoran style, los Historiantes would typically open an event with music and dance. Watch the performance again here.

If you believe that the use of content in the exhibition infringes yours or someone else's rights, and is not permitted under the UK’s fair dealing exceptions, please contact us.

Artist biography

Studio Lenca is the working name of artist Jose Campos — “Studio” referring to a space for experimentation and constantly shifting place; “Lenca” referring to ancestors from El Salvador. Born in La Paz, Jose lives and works in London. Having first trained in contemporary dance, Jose received an MA in Arts & Learning from Goldsmiths University of London in 2019.