Paz Errázuriz. Club Buenos Aires, Santiago. Serie Tango (de a dos), 1988. Colecciones Fundación MAPFRE


Almost a decade ago, in 2015, the MAPFRE Foundation presented in Madrid, in its then open Sala de Bárbara de Braganza, a retrospective dedicated to Paz Errázuriz, who had won the PHotoESPAÑA Award that year; The artist then confessed that she did not remember having ever seen such a number of her works together. Some time later, in 2018, this institution added 175 images of the Chilean to its collections, which she began working on in the 1970s, in turmoil in her country due to the beginning of the Pinochet dictatorship; has dedicated his career to capturing what escapes the gaze of the traveler and the hurried, peripheral environments and characters, considered a minority, which he portrays from naturalness and also influencing their dignity: his hallmark is human intensity, associated with its purpose is to destabilize norms in the visual order, in no case to translate current affairs on photographic paper, with a documentary purpose.

These themes, the Chilean dictatorship and those human groups that we can understand as marginal, are key in his production, and the choice has to do with the development of a sense of belonging to the society of his country, where he continues to reside, and fundamentally, to his forgotten ones; with its attachment to subjects with very characteristic ways of life and particular realities: I have always thought that photography has to do with who records it. In my case, all my series inevitably respond to my desires, interests and obsessions (…). What I photograph has to do with people who are not in the center, but outside, always subordinated to power. By analyzing, in fact, the evolution of Errázuriz's career, we will also verify the changing nature of the concept of the marginal; His work does not include a single one: he has looked at those who live on the streets, those who make a living from the circus, boxers in their moments of greatest fragility, the elderly, those who suffer from mental illnesses or transsexuals who are dedicated to prostitution. .

An extensive compendium of his work dated between 1979 and 2014 is being shown by the MAPFRE Foundation, until next September and under the curator of Carlos Gollonet, in its KBr space in Barcelona: we will contemplate portraits of those ignored by the regime, of whom they are rarely heard and escape the speeches and attention of the officials, individuals with whom the artist was able to establish a relationship of respect and trust that is evident in these compositions and that has grown over time, strengthening the ethical and social commitment of the photographer. .

The exhibition starts with the series The sleeping ones (1979), dedicated to helpless individuals who live outdoors, usually overcome by sleep or fatigue; The fact of making them the protagonists of his production was, on that date and context, a completely transgressive gesture: in a militarized country, their presence and visual relevance implied a challenge with respect to hegemonic positions. Years later, as the dictatorship neared its end, he photographed Errázuriz those who participated in strikes, demonstrations and protests, paying above all attention to the movement. Women for Life. In some of these works, we will see a female group that interrupted traffic on the occasion of Women's Day; also the dissuasive and repressive actions of these acts.

His series dates back to 1984. The circus, a reason that also serves to investigate the canons of representation of society; He focused on the small and provincial people, due to their nomadic, volatile and vulnerable condition and the exceptional nature of this way of life. In parallel, between 1984 and 1987, he worked in Adam's apple, a group focused on men who cross-dressed and prostituted in brothels in Santiago and Talca; During the period of the dictatorship, their situation became more vulnerable: they suffered harassment and humiliation.

The core of this last series is the family formed by Mercedes, her transvestite biological children Pilar and Evelyn, and their friends whom she portrayed in their daily lives, subjected to precariousness and the threat of AIDS, which was able to with some of them. they. In no case does Errázuriz capture decisive or fleeting moments, these are compositions agreed upon with his models, derived from their mutual connection.

Paz Errázuriz.  Miss Piggy I, Santiago.  The circus series, 1984.  MAPFRE Foundation Collections

Your series The fight against the angel (1987) incorporates another position: that of entering a world alien, in the eighties, to women. Faced with the virility associated with these athletes, the artist chooses to portray them in more intimate moments in which they show signs of their fatigue. Again, their representations are not the normative ones. From that same perspective she captured older people dancing in Tango (1988), without any caricature or ironic intention, but rather from respect and emphasizing his positive life attitude.

Paz Errázuriz.  Boxer VI, Santiago.  Boxers Series.  The fight against the angel, 1987. MAPFRE Foundation Collections
Paz Errázuriz.  Club Buenos Aires, Santiago.  Tango Series (in pairs), 1988. MAPFRE Foundation Collections

With zero condescension or paternalism he approached those suffering from mental illnesses in The heart attack of the soul (1992-1994), which began at the Philippe Pinel psychiatric hospital in Putaendo. She sought to reflect the individuality of each of them and also the friendly or loving relationships that they had generated in this sanatorium, despite the poverty and scarce stimuli suggested by the building that surrounds them. Sometimes, the confinement of these people had to do with the future of the dictatorship itself, with imprisonments and disappearances.

It is known that these images were exhibited in that same hospital, and could be seen by those who appeared in them and by the staff, and that they motivated improvements in its administration and in the treatment offered to patients.

Paz Errázuriz.  Heart attack 5, Putaendo, from the series The heart attack of the soul, 1994. Collections Fundación MAPFRE

While working in this psychiatric hospital, in 1993, Errázuriz met Fresia Alessandri Baker, a member of the Kawésqar people, who continue, with effort, to live on the east coast of Wellington Island, in the extreme south of Patagonia. After about a decade, the photographer managed to gain the esteem of this indigenous community, threatened by deforestation and various epidemics, and document their way of life. The fruits saw the light in the publication Kawésqar, children of the sun woman (2005), which alternates images and oral testimonies.

Paz Errázuriz.  Atáp, Ester Edén Wellington, Puerto Edén, from the series Los nomadas del mar, 1995. MAPFRE Foundation Collections

The last series collected in KBr were made in the 2000s: they are Blindness, Memento Mori, Exeresis and dolls. The first, still unfinished, portrays blind people who know they are being photographed and, sometimes, as a couple, which distances them from stereotypes of loneliness; Another series offered Errázuriz to a similar theme: in The light that blinds me He photographed, filmed and dedicated poetic texts to a family affected by achromatopsia, a rare disease that causes black and white vision.

Memento Mori It has images dedicated to decorative motifs and photos arranged in cemeteries to remember the dead; elements that remain unchanged in contrast to the effects of the passage of time on the deceased. She had not met them, a circumstance that gives the series a particular meaning: I am very attracted to the anonymous nature of the characters. There is a relationship between anonymity and the potential for beauty (…). The cemetery has a social structure, with its neighborhoods, its wealthiest or most popular sectors. And the photos that I took are from everywhere, chosen at random, and a beautiful whole is put together. They are photographs that move me to no end. Maybe they were horrible people, I don't care. You can never think that. They convey something very beautiful. All of these people are incredibly beautiful.

Exeresis It brings together photographs of mutilated sculptures (that term means extraction or excision in Greek), taken in various European and American museums. Errázuriz is not interested in the causes of this breakage, but in the image itself that is fragmented, castrated, ambiguous and lacking heroism in its traditional sense. These are, therefore, new bodies.

dollsFinally, it includes her latest works on the issue of prostitution: scenes of sex workers on the border of Chile and Peru, only in color. In this border area, largely abandoned, brothels are common, and the artist approached these women with her usual attitude and gaze, that of respect and security.

Paz Errázuriz.  Atáp, Ester Edén Wellington, Puerto Edén, from the series Los nomadas del mar, 1995. MAPFRE Foundation Collections

Paz Errázuriz


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From June 6 to September 15, 2024

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