Adriana Lestido

Diary from another world or the dark side of the Antarctic

Black Antarctic are the diaries the photographer Adriana Lestido wrote during her strange journey to the white continent.

by Demian Orosz

A journey towards the white, the desire for love to appear, lightness, wind, hearing the dreams of those who live at the end of the world.

Adriana Lestido embarked towards the Antarctic with mixed emotions and expectations, imagining the white continent would be like a new uncontaminated beginning, a landscape in which the eye loses itself in the absence of colours, air of supreme purity, rugged souls strengthened by the ice. What she found was a “Black Antarctic”, volcanic earth where the snow doesn’t last long, it melts and shows dark sand. An unexpected destination, Isla Decepción (Deception Island).

The Argentine photographer, master of the portrait and moments that go to the core of human relationships, famous for her series; Mujeres presas y Madres e hijas (Mothers in Prison and Mothers and Daughters) together with the anthology of 30 years of work in Lo que se ve, (What is Seen) departed towards the Antarctic at the beginning of 2012, embarked on a journey that would help her shake off routines and become a strengthening experience. The combination of an expedition to the icy desert and personal experience. Being who she is she was also after visions, images.

After 40 days and nights in no man’s land between despair and finding herself, a flight on a Hercules plane, a test to patience on a Russian ship that sailed through icebergs, step by step, dinners at 7 pm, going up and down ladders made of rope, deadening cold weather, forbidden areas and cancelled outings. Lestido came back with abundant material for a book of almost 100 photos that she named Black Antarctic (Capital Intelectual Publisher). The same poetic style of her photographs pours into her notes Black Antarctic. The Diaries, a logbook of that adventure full of mishaps, obstacles, bad temper and dead time with episodes of true, vital enlightenment.

The detail in the domestic descriptions, the existential abyss is just as present in the diaries. The lesson on how to tell the day-to-day when the yearning for intensity and surprising experiences aren’t exactly what she hoped for.

Guided by the I Ching and the determination to honour the present, the goal to live the moment, the photographer mixes her worry for her cats she left at home or a gas leak she hadn’t fixed with lost loves or the desire to hug her parents and ask them for forgiveness. All this together with details of the wonders she witnesses in spite of it all. The revelations may come from the lunar landscapes in an Antarctic that refuses to show its whiteness, wild animals that question the human presence, where men and women perish isolation, or the bunk beds with mattresses and no sheets on as island with an existentialist name.

There’s fire under the ice, Lestido writes on February 28th 2012, as soon as she arrives to Deception (fate replaces Bay of Hope with it) a volcano with its crater submerged under water. The snow is absent throughout, but a handful of ‘yerba’ and a few mates (bitter tea) on a balcony at the edge of the world can be quite a miracle. A spark. A question that recalls Raymond Carver’s poem: And did you get what you wanted from this life?