Adriana Lestido

Portraits of the end of the world: Adriana Lestido and a journey of light and shadows through "Black Antarctica"

A new book with almost 100 images taken on an expedition to a volcanic island in the Antarctic reveals a surprising and unexpected feature of the icy continent that can also be seen in an exhibition within Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat’s Art Collection from October 25th.

by Diego Petrecolla

Capital Intelectual from the Insud Group published “Black Antarctic” by the award-winning photographer Adriana Lestido with sponsorship from the city of Buenos Aires.

A gigantic and silent white mass that covers the horizon and ends abruptly in the deep blue sea. This is the common denominator, the recurring mental image everyone has of the icy continent.

Did photographer Adriana Lestido visited this white giant? For six weeks after her project was selected in 2011 by the Antarctic Institute and the Foreign Office to go as artist in residence. The trip took place in 2012. There she visited Base Decepción, (Deception Base), to discover some details that tear down those established ideas of the Antarctic.

“The idea was the white and we ended up in a black volcanic island, with fire underneath that melted the snow. The arrival was a disappointment, but later we discovered the incredible power of the non-presence of humans.”, Lestido tells Infobae.

This perplexity and the contrast between expectations and reality revealed in a journey to the unknown, gave the title to the work: Black Antarctic. It’s part of something of a new phase (but always in rigorous black and white), in her traditional style: "Before my focus was more on human relationships, but I feel this is a logical consequence of everything I’ve done up to now. The idea of going to the Antarctic had to do with opening something new".

The style of her admired Werner Herzog, who also ventured through the Antarctic to film Encounters at the End of the World, the book of photographs also has a diary recalling the experience. "He (Herzog)has always been present, since the first time I saw one of his documentaries when I was studying filmmaking".

The Book

Black Antarctic is a new quest, that started with the series "El Amor", (Love) a shift from a human angle that predominates the images that travelled the world such as "Madre e hija de Plaza de Mayo" (Mother and Daughter at Plaza de Mayo) (1982), together with the series "Mujeres Presas" (Women in Prison) (taken between 1991-1993 and published in 2001) and "Madres Adolescentes" (Adolescent Mothers) (1988-1989).

In this experience, however, there’s a predominance of an empty continent, where humans appear to be asking permission, like a refugee, overwhelmed by surroundings with extraordinary winds and threatening volcanoes, thousands of years old.

" Look at the photographs", is Lestido’s invitation when she’s asked to describe her work, and then in conversation with Infobae she adds: " but it’s a more bare book compared to the previous ones. It’s pure image, I wanted the paper, even in its touch, to have the foggy Antarctic atmosphere. There’s no text, except and initial quote and one at the end".

The book with 96 pages of photographs is like a "dark side of the Antarctic", published by Capital Intelectual of the Insud Group, with sponsorship from the City of Buenos Aires. It’s a very elegant edition with a cloth-lined hard cover, 22 x 33 cms.

The Exhibition

"The exhibition is a summary of the photos of the book. Except for the opportunity to see large, silver gelatine from analogical stills." the artist explains.

From October 25th, a selection of images from the book will be exhibited within the Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat collection. It runs until January 21st 2018.

It can be visited from Tuesdays to Sundays from 12 pm to 8 pm at Olga Cosettini 141, in the suburb of Puerto Madero. The following destination will be, quite eloquently, the Museum of Ice in the city of Calafate in the South of Argentina.

Lestidos’ stills has earned her many prestigious awards and international grants, among them the Hasselblad Grant in 1991, the Guggenheim Grant in 1995, the Mother Jones Award in 1997. As for local distinctions, she obtained the Bicentenary Award in 2010 and was distinguished for her collaboration to National Culture, that same year, among other recognitions along her extensive career.