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Terra obscura is the third chapter of my project Mi país imaginado

"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 and the extractive principles on which photography was first institutionalized.

In Terra obscura, I work with archival and found imagery, pages from books and magazines, money bills, negatives, tape and thread. I appropriate them, re-photograph, intervene, deconstruct and peel back the layers of time to disrupt the innocence of the photographs, to notice the power dynamics, to explore beyond the frame, to create counter-narratives and open up new dialogues.

This project was inspired and influenced by several readings including Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism by Ariella Aisha Azoulay, Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Times by Mark Sealy, Listening to Images by Tina Campt, and The Image of Whiteness edited by Daniel C. Blight.

Marble mastersHumboldt, guns and flowersAnnuit coeptis or the classification of natureThe untaken photographs and RockefellerAn archive for humanityCopy rightsImpoverished youngsters sold for $529,000The theft of 70,000 seedsWe are one big familyCivil contractsLieTwo men with hats"Terra Obscura" at the Somerville Arts Council, 2023