In her highly evocative and personal first monograph, Historia, memoria y silencios (Schilt Publishing, February 2012), Argentinian artist Lorena Guillén Vaschetti ponders what the family photograph reveals about our past, and most importantly, what is hidden beyond the frame.
In 2009, Vaschettis mother threw away all the family slides to protect her daughter from the family history. Vaschetti 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 volume.
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 thatreflects 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 a 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.
Vaschetti's 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.
Selected works from the book are currently on view at FotoFest's
"International Discoveries III" exhibition in Houston, Texas; Lehigh Dubois Gallery in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Pequena Galeria in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Historia, memoria y silencios will be published in the United States by Schilt Publishing in February 2012. Schilt released the book in the United Kingdom in October 2011, and in Continental Europe in November 2011. The book is published in English and Spanish. An Italian edition is available through Postcart Publishing in Italy.
Lorena Guillén 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 UnitedStates and Europe, and is included in a number of public and private collections.
My mother and I are the only members left of a big Italian family. 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: It happened already, she said
Lorena Guillén Vaschetti