Desert dancers highlight Andean culture

Story highlights

  • Photographer Andres Figueroa spent a week in one of the driest places on Earth
  • He took portraits of Chileans who dress up in costume for popular religious festivals

(CNN)South America's Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, resembles some of the faraway planets monitored by giant telescopes there.

The lack of humidity provides optimal conditions to watch the sky and study the origins of the universe.
    "It is pure visual silence," said photographer Andres Figueroa. "It is amazing. There is absolutely no humidity, and (these conditions) create some striking contrasts."
      There, in that clear, inhospitably arid environment, Figueroa turned his camera lens toward another discussion on cosmology, one rooted in the ancient folklore of the Andean people.
      Taking along his mobile lighting studio, Figueroa photographed a series of religious festivals that take place every July in the Atacama. In his "Dancers of the Deserts" series, Figueroa chronicles these festivals, which attract about 200,000 people to some otherwise quiet mining towns in Chile.