Cam Linh Huynh
Bolivia and the traveling guitar
+February 21, 2021
From the Earth to the Sun : through this series, photographer Cam Linh Huynh (@camlinhlomographe) tells us the story of a trip across Bolivia leading to memorable friendships. A series which illustrates a journey mixing her different passions: travel, music, and of course, photography. Lomography to be specific; an analogue movement using plastic cameras which is giving birth to experimental visuals. The lomography community praises spontaneity and creativity, both reflected in Cam Linh’s work and way of exploring. Without any post-production treatment, her images are made according to her motto:
Just a blend of instinct and love.
An avid lover of solo travel, Cam Linh decided to take off for several months to South America in late 2015. Starting her trip in the north of Argentina, she volunteered on the land of an indigenous Coya family. Thanks to them, she was introduced to the celebration of the Pachamama, the Mother Earth, all the while taking care of plants, crops, farm animals, recycling...the daily life in the country, earthly and spiritual, was a welcome distance from her usual urban life.
During her stay, Cam Linh met a fellow local wanderer, Naz, accompanied by a soon-to-be meaningful friend, a guitar; a travelling guitar. Three years ago, a German couple had decided to give the instrument a new life, with the hope that it would pass through the hands of like-minded people. A notebook registered her journey as it played along the roads.
Along with two other volunteers, Naz, Cam Linh and the guitar decided to continue their trip throughout Bolivia. The little band went from deserted landscapes to urban jungles, all to the sound of folk music, improvising rhythms and paths. Walking and singing, Cam Linh renewed with her musical past, once her primary artistic way of expression, before her encounter with lomography. An art which gives her the means to capture and share the emotions she sees, avoiding clichés in touristic places and offering food for thought to the viewer.
The guitar, which had already travelled around Europe and Africa, provided the original soundtrack to an excursion to the Salar de Uyuni. The world’s largest salt desert, created by the drying up of prehistoric lakes, is home to millennial giant cacti that intrigued Cam Linh’s eye, in the middle of this endless white mirror.
Together they went through Potosi, with its baroque architecture but infernal silver mines, and the elegant colonial city of Sucre. The highest capital of the world, La Paz, culminating at 4000m, welcomed the troop in its urban chaos. A halt made more melodious thanks to the guitar and the harmony it was creating around the group of vagabonds.
Pursuing the ride to the border of Bolivia, they arrived to the town of Copacabana. The climb to El Calvario, overlooking the coastal community, its shore and the great lake Titicaca, inspired Cam Linh to make a shot contrasting the sky and the earth. It also highlights the syncretism which sets the tempo of everyday life in the country. The viewer is invited to breathe in different interpretations from the photographer’s pictures. The superpositions of different places or different perspectives of the same place offer possibilities to discover and rediscover details, sensations, stories. Cam Linh aims to recreate the feeling of her surroundings; a bridge matching a fence questions the meaning of frontiers, while opening up a dialogue, a transmission.
Humming at sunset on the sandy beach, Cam Linh was entrusted the unique guitar. She was now responsible for the rest of its journey until she could find the perfect person to hand it over to, a serious duty that she was honoured to complete. After heartbreaking goodbyes, Cam Linh left to continue her trip through South America with the soulful instrument back to Argentina, then Chile and lastly Colombia. But Cam Linh couldn’t depart from her new friend and didn’t want to bring it back in Europe. The only person she could think of, who could meet the reliability of taking care of it, was a Japanese friend. In a plot twist, the lomographer decided to fly to Japan and present the guitar with new adventures...
P.S: If you ever meet the travelling guitar, feel free to contact Cam Linh, it is always comforting to hear from an old friend...
I wanted to find someone who would share the values of peace and openness linked to the original concept of this guitar...
Cam Linh Huynh is a French self-taught analogue photographer, who brings her lomo cameras everywhere. When she is not roaming the world, she explores her hometown of Paris and shares her encounters with a focus on feminism, intersectionality, minorities and social issues. Her work has been featured in several exhibitions in France and abroad. She is working on a series of women street artists portraits and is a member of the Destructuralisme figuratif movement.