Adriana Lestido

What is seen

by Natividad Marón

I read that Adriana Lestido said her work is run through separation and absence. It is true. Women imprisoned, single mothers, children and adolescents in hospital, including love that ends in separation, are the subjects of these works that the photographer has created along a career of 37 years. Partly catharsis of their own experience, the exhibited works at the MNBA are a selection within the micro universes she has chosen and that she has been chosen for to dive into. Nothing is random and nothing interests us without a reason. The things we do have to do with ourselves, with our history, our background and subjectivity.

Separation and absence complement and feedback each other as realities. The absence is also a way of presence. That one, who is not, is in the memory, the mind and the emptiness, the ephemeral and the overwhelming. Not being is a new way of being, in many cases renewed and empowered.

That man not found in the images of Lestido is exactly what gives those women an invaluable strength, pierced through the eyes of the photographer. Because it is a fact, they are alone (without them) but in fact they are their own creation. And since they can stand on their own, they are brave while in prison, being in charge of their children, struggling and claiming for justice. The absent man does not leave; precisely, this absence becomes tangible in the strength of each of the women we see, in the story behind this image, in the pain, in the offspring, in the memories, in the mind.

Love is represented in the daily and tangible bond of the women with their daughters. In the way they look at each other makes the twosome, in the tattoos the inmates dedicated, the claim when they don´t know what happened to the loved one. The separation modifies the bond but it doesn´t make it disappear. When Lestido narrates her own story visually, she doesn´t need the literal figure to convey the feelings that love awakens in all its complexity. The image of a frozen memory that takes you back to a moment you lived, can mean much more than the gestures of a person, than the face close-up. Love exists in that which is small, and daily such as light illuminating the other person, the embrace mother and daughter, the innocent play, the way of looking and closing the eyes.

Lestido is not looking for a fiction of things but she approaches reality as it is, and that´s how she shows it to us. She does it in specific environments we are not used to going to: the prison, the hospital, the intimacy of the bond among others. Each one of them with its complexity and endless situations, emotions, thoughts, acts, and others. It is in that macro environment where the photographer disappears to make something visible in particular at the shot: that gesture, that position, that space, that represents both a little and a lot, that can be taken as a milestone in the sea of specific contexts. She approaches the intimacy of pain without fear, and from there she takes us to the reality that others, deep inside, have a lot in common with ourselves; love, angst, relations, breakups, parting, absence and presence .