HYSTERON - Nagore Legarreta

Current Obsessions

The post is pretty self-explanatory: a list of our current art obsessions.

But I would like to propose a guide to look at these images – a gaze exercise, if you will:

  1. Look at each image for at least 30 seconds.
  2. What do you see?
  3. Does it make you feel anything? Does it remind you of any other work you’ve seen?
  4. How do you thing it was made?
  5. Why do you think it was made this way?

After that, read the text and let me know if you agree!

HYSTERON - Nagore Legarreta
HYSTERON – Nagore Legarreta
Captura de Tela 2016-10-22 às 20.43.08
HYSTERON – Nagore Legarreta

Nagore was featured at the off festival of this year’s Photespaña. Born in 1981, she first encountered cameras and photography in 2003 while working in a local newspaper. During that period, she attended a workshop on pinhole cameras, which are, as the artist explains:

What is a pinhole camera? You can build a camera using any box. It is simply necessary to close well the box, so that we avoid the light getting inside. Then, make a small hole and the light that enters the box will project on one of the inner surfaces of the box. Putting any photosensitive material on that surface we will catch that light, the image. So far I have used photographic paper in cameras that I built with cans, and I also have used colour negative 35mm film in a camera that I made with a matchbox.

Pinhole Camera
Pinhole Camera

 

The astonishing series HYSTERON featured here totally caught my eyes: deep, dark, confusing and mesmerizing. It is also a fantastic technique – trough a homemade built pinhole camera with a tuna can and a pot furnace. An intuitive and DIY approach creating first class work.

 

 

Captura de Tela 2016-10-22 às 20.45.22

 

untitled (white) collage - from HYBERNATORS - Ruth van Beek
untitled (white) collage – from HYBERNATORS – Ruth van Beek

On a completely different spectrum lies Dutch artist Ruth van Beek (b. 1977). Different from Nagore, Ruth pursued a Masters in Photography. Her first book was published in 2011 and in 2013 she was selected as one of BJP’s 20 photographers to watch. Her work reminds of Erik Kessel in that it resembles an object collection. Just as Lucio Fontana tried to surpass the canvas Ruth also bypasses the photographic dimension by shaping the paper. It’s a simple yet imaginative intervention to these images, rearranged through complex but free folds, which transforms these into something else. In a way, Ruth’s work is stronger when shown together as if you are amongst a secret cave of wonderful weird things.

On this interview, Ruth explains some of the intentions behind this technique:

For me the attraction of photography has always been very attached to it’s physical appearance…the old analogue album photo, a pass photo in a wallet, a damaged picture found on the street. The combination of what is on the image and the shape that it is in provides the image with an important extra layer of drama. After collecting photos for a few years and making books with them, I realized that I missed something essential. I was cherishing these anonymous pictures as if they were my own. But of course, they where not. And in order to make them mine I had stop treating them as treasures. I decided I had to do the opposite and damage them in an almost violent way. I remember the first time I put my knife in a portrait of an anonymous women. It was so good to do this bad thing. And this is where it all started.

La Oveja Negra - Regina José Galindo
La Oveja Negra – Regina José Galindo

 

Exhalaciòn 2014, Regina José Galindo
Exhalaciòn 2014, Regina José Galindo
Carnada, 2006 - Regina José Galindo
Carnada, 2006 – Regina José Galindo

 

Regina José Galindo (b.1974, Guatemala) works especially within performance art (which, as you may know by now, is one of my favorites). Some of her photographs remind me of another Latin American –  Berna Reale.

Galindo’s work is strong, female centered and nightmarish.  Like Reale,  the artist’s body is often the main vessel for the work, a tradition in live arts. Strongly political with a bold aesthetic. It is clear that there are stories behind the work. In all of her interviews the context of her homeland is explicit and it shows in her work, even if you don’t know the key details. In real live, the performances confuse and move you out of your comfort zone. When asked how and why she got involved with performance art, Regina asserts:

I had no academic studies, no technical skills, I couldn’t draw or paint, but a world of ideas, fears, rage and frustration was dying to come out. When I discovered the potential my body held, I discovered a new side of me and was so comfortable with it that I decided that was what I wanted to do”. (Latinart.com)

On “Black Sheep” there is something wild about the positioning of all elements in the field with its subdued tones. It’s an ecstatic image that suggests movement – through the body’s position, the hair, and the framing. In “La Oveja Negra” this symbol of the “black sheep”  is immediately translatable to many personal interpretations – even more so in a feminist context.

My methodology centers on research, on empathy with reality, but above all on my intuition. I deal with topics that spark something in me, things that to me don’t have any reason or justification. How does this affect my context? To be honest, my work doesn’t affect my context, but my context does affect my work”.  (Latinart.com)

I also feel deeply touched by “Exhalaciòn” – which means exhalation. It is impossible not to relate to my own life as an asthmatic. Which is not what she intended when you look carefully and explore the context behind it. But, in a way, it is, as it is dealing with the idea of life vs death through the most basic mechanism which is breathing. And that is the beauty of art, how it reads us and let’s us read it and make it our own. Her work is powerful because it is poetic, almost simple, and thus highly effective.