Adriana Lestido

The secrets of fire

by Raquel Garzón.

About the new book the photographer Adriana Lestido, What is seen which gathers in 152 images more than 30 years of her life as photographer

In 1895, Edgar Degas was already a famous painter when he began to get blind. There are 40 photographs from that year in which he tried, half play, half desperation to use a new medium expressively: almost like an entourage of light while twilight threatened to swallow everything.

The anecdote returns when I wander along the recent What is seen, the book where Adriana Lestido (Buenos Aires, 1955) assembles in 152 images more than 30 years of her life as photographer. It is the light, of course, how she handles light, to wait for it until the light says what we want her to say, not to hurry her, as someone who knows the secrets of fire. But there is something else, on how to carve it, to know the pleats, the reverse, the movements and that is why one could see it even in the darkness because in them black and white turn into other things: in the music we dance with eyes closed, tightly holding a body, tasting its perfume; in the trace of a smile that escapes despite sadness; in tattoos repeated from the skin and the confinement, a declaration of love; in all the stories a white shirt can tell stories with wrinkles resting on the back of a chair; in the taste of a kiss.

Published by Capital Intelectual, this anthology of 296 pages opens with “Mother and daughter in Plaza de mayo”, a picture from 1982 that still today gets you a lump in the throat. She also recovers her work on imprisoned women (pictures that have devastation of a shout). There is also an impressive series over that tender tension that characterizes the bond between mothers and daughters, questioning thousand ways of what it means to be a woman in each case.

My favorite ones do not hide its tragic prehistory. Girls holding on to children, embracing in them the little sweetness life has given them. That is what the portraits of adolescent mothers tell. I feel a strange emotion looking at them, as if someone pushed close to me another meaning of the word joy.