PORTLAND, OR.- Ampersand
presents an exhibition of photographs by Lorena Guillen Vaschetti & paintings by her mother, Norma Vaschetti, both of whom live & work in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lorena's recent body of work, Historia, memoria y silencios, investigates what truths from our past are revealed or hidden within photographic documents, in this case a series of family slides that were all but lost in 2009. "My mother & I are the only members left of a big Italian family," writes Lorena, "Convinced that she was lifting the heavy weight of the family past off my shoulders, she called me to let me know that she had thrown away all the family slides." Lorena was able to recover only one box from the many that had been discarded. Examining the photographs from her own perspective, she re photographed select slides from a depth of field that leaves portions out of focus & the faces of her family members blurred. The resulting dreamlike, mysterious quality is heightened by Lorena's photographs of packs of slides & film canisters she chose not to open, leaving concealed the family secrets bound inside these photographic artifacts. Released as a lovely first monograph in early 2012, Historia, memoria y silencios was chosen as one of the best photobooks of the year by PDN & Photo España 2012.
The current show at Ampersand thus investigates not only the relationship between photographs exhibited on a wall versus those printed in a book, it also focuses on the relationship between a mother & daughter, both of whom as artists have recently been exploring nuances of the past. Dreamlike in their own way, Norma Vaschetti's landscapes compel us to look beyond horizon lines or follow pathways into uncertain backgrounds. In this, they are metaphors for a journey we all must take, stepping backward into an unknown past or drifting forward into a family's future that, in this case, ends with a mother & daughter.
In her highly evocative and personal first monograph, Historia, memoria y silencios (Schilt Publishing) Argentinean artist Lorena Guillén Vaschetti ponders what truth of our past is revealed within the photographic document and most important, what is hidden. In 2009, Vachettis mother threw away all the family slides to protect her daughter from the family history. Vachetti was able to recover only one box from the many that her mother had discarded. She re-photographed the contents from her perspective, choosing to leave the slides that were wrapped in packages unopened. A collection of these beautiful, and often haunting images in which Vaschetti re-writes her own past, is published here for the first time in this intimate and exquisitely designed monograph.
The book begins with a carefully chosen sequence of photographs of the loose slides Vaschetti found in the box. The artist re-photographs the slides from a depth of field that leaves portions of the images out of focus, and the faces of her family members blurred. This gives the series a dreamlike, mysterious quality that reflects the passage of time, and poses intriguing questions about the relationship between family members, and what other unknown stories exist in between the picture frames.
In the second section of the book (tied in Japanese binding) Unopened/Sin Abrir the artist presents photographs of the packages of slides that she chose not to open. Bound in elastic bands, and concealed in film canisters, these photographic artifacts conceal family secrets that the artist will never learn. Vaschetti is most interested in what we cannot see, and how powerful constructed memories of our past shape what we ultimately believe to be true.
The work is reverent without crossing over into sentimentality. It is the simplicity of the presentation that makes it profound, and moves us to reconsider our own pasts via the family photograph.
Lorena Gullén Vaschetti was born in Rosario, Argentina in 1974. She studied Architecture and Anthropology before committing to Photography. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout South America, the U.S. and Europe, and is included in a number of public and private collections. This spring she was chosen as a Distinguished Photographer by Photo District News.
The book is in English and Spanish.