by Alessandro Bo Rohde

Shortlisted at the Charta Award 2022

Since ancient times man has always distorted his world imagining monsters and demons, mythological creatures, deformed men; Inventing beast-men to somehow seek and see for himself, always re ected in the form of mermaids, werewolves, among others, somehow bringing his worst nightmares to reality. Before rationalism in the 18th century and the beginning of the classi cation of species there was practically no scientific methods to distinguish between facts and legends.
Various thinkers and philosophers such as Homer, Aristotle, Herodotus designated inexplicable deformed humans with the term lulus naturae (jokes of nature). Later in the 18th and 19th century zoos and deformed human collectors began to emerge, generating large pro ts out of these “monsters”. Likewise, science made its best effort to separate the human being from all these “phenomena” or “imperfections”, calling them errors of nature and even monstrosities. This fear of being rejected with such phenomena can be seen in the scienti c obsession to look for physical characteristics to distinguish themselves from those “monsters” which were mistreated, humiliated, exploit- ed throughout their lives.
In the high mountains of Ecuador exists the legend of Zhiro; it is said to be a missing link between man and beast, who inhabits the forests of the Andes mountains, and is used to chase people in order to mislead them. Its name comes from the Kichwa word: zhiru, which is used to refer to an unde ned color. In addition to the presented images, the body of work includes real testimonies from encounters with the man-beast in an indigenous community called Patul, in the Azuay province of Cuenca, Ecuador.