Terra Obscura is the third chapter of my project Mi País Imaginado (2020-ongoing)
"A general imperial right to seize and take was practiced as given and unlimited. The use of the camera was built on this right to take-to take photographs in worlds that were "opened up" for them by imperial agents who socialized them to see this right as inalienable, given to them for the sake of humanity..."
Ariella Aisha Azoulay, Potential History, Unlearning Imperialism
In the 19th century, Western men armed with a camera, join the explorers, chroniclers and literate travelers to capture and document the world around them, contributing to the creation and dissemination of “exotic” imaginaries, a practice that continues in contemporary photography.
This work understands photography as a technology that was never innocent or neutral and as a culture and a modus-operandi that initiated back in 1492. I am interested in the relationship between the history of photography and the colonial gaze, especially related to South America and specifically to Peru.
My project considers what scholar Azoulay refers as the new ontological-political understanding of photography, one that takes into account all the participants in photographic acts—camera, photographer, photographed subject, and spectator—approaching the photograph (and its meaning) as an unintentional effect of the encounter between all these participants.
In Terra Obscura, I work with mixed media: archival images, book pages, money bills, tape and thread. I appropriate images, re-photograph, intervene, deconstruct and peel back the layers of time to disrupt the innocence of the photographs, to notice the power dynamics, the visual differences, to create counter-narratives and open up new dialogues.
© 2022 Claudia Ruiz Gustafson . All rights reserved