This series is a visual exploration on the construction of an imaginary with the oral story of a town in Veracruz called Coyolillo, an Afro-Mexican community in the south of Mexico—reframing their history to one of freedom.
The first settlers of this area were humans from Africa who were forced to work in the haciendas of the slavers. In the municipality of Actopan in Veracruz, people from the Congo and Angola worked on the haciendas in the central region of the state of Veracruz during the 16th and 17th centuries. Coyolillo’s grandparents tell how the slave owner of the hacienda of San Miguel de Almolonga forced the Africans to work in deplorable conditions with only one day of rest per year.
Thus, the oral story of the people tells that the African ancestors organized a party to give space to the celebration of freedom. Over the years, it has been transformed into a carnival. The main characters of this celebration are the “disguised” or “Jejés”, who cover their faces and transform themselves into animals with antlers (bulls, cows, and deer) in performance within the community. This story is an allegory of the oral history of this ancestral tradition of freedom that comes from Africa that is preserved in a hidden village in the valley of Mozambique, in Veracruz, Mexico.
Koral Carballo (b. Poza Rica, Veracruz, Mexico in 1987) tells stories related to identity, violence, and territory—dissolving frontiers between photojournalism and visual arts.
She is the recipient of the Catchlight Fellowship (2021), POY LATAM’s Second Place Nuestra Mirada Award (2021), the Woman Photograph and Getty Images Grant (2019), an Open Society Foundations Moving Walls 25 Fellowship (2018), and she received first place in the Latin American Photography Colloquium Portfolio Review (2017).
In 2014, along with a group of Veracruz photojournalists, Carballo founded the Mirar Distinto International Festival of Journalistic and Documentary Photography in Mexico, which she currently co-produces.
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Mystery Of The Disguised
Featuring: Koral Carballo
Curated by: Koral CarballoView Location Details Brooklyn Bridge Park – The Beach
Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway,
Location open 24 hours
Thanks to my friends in Coyolillo: Octavio López Zaragoza, Silvia López, Omar López, Yoel Zaragoza, Liz Morales, Génaro López, Genia Carreto, Rafael Carranza, Chela Carranza, Henry, Jared, Jair León, Efraín León, Vanely López, and Jesús López. Without you and your collaboration and friendship this work would not have been possible.