Arthur Drooker’s photographic documentary project brought him to 33 ruins in 15 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, some of them famous (Peru’s Machu Picchu, Guatemala’s Tikal) and some not as much. In “Lost Worlds,” not all of the sites on display are visually rich, but Drooker’s success rate is still high. Using a digital infrared camera, the photographer lovingly captures tumbledown stone facades, staircases, pyramids, and agricultural terraces, as well as thick jungle environments and the obligatory human-sacrifice ball court. Two images are particularly stunning: one of San Nicolás de Bari in the Dominican Republic—the first hospital in the new world, where Drooker momentarily brings to life a hurricane-damaged shell by capturing a rising frenzy of birds—and the San Ignacio Miní mission in Argentina, where he combines rigid symmetry with the ghostly haze of infrared imaging and an eerily flat perspective. Don’t overlook the illuminating captions, which explain how U.S. soldiers permanently scarred a priceless artifact in Haiti and how a Peruvian settlement, Chan Chan, devolved from the largest pre-Hispanic city in South America to the abandoned collection of mud walls it is today.
“Lost Worlds: Ruins of the Americas” is on view 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays through Feb. 24 at the OAS/AMA F Street Gallery, 1889 F St. NW. Free. (202) 458-6016.