A cloud above me

Alejandra Arévalo

2020 - Ongoing

During my childhood and part of my adolescence, I idealized the figure of a non-existent father. Through the stories of family members, the figure of an honorable and loving man was built in my head. It was as if everyone had agreed to tell the same story, to create a different reality and perhaps to ease his death. I used to imagine how his presence would have changed and influenced the stages of my life.

Through the inertia of existence, I knew that my father had left us a few months after my mother got pregnant. Perhaps, he was afraid of the challenges that came with forming a second family and with a high-risk pregnancy.

This is when the story begins.

This project tries to make peace with this event that marks me without even knowing it. It goes from the imaginary to reality, from life to death, from longing to restlessness.

I go back to the family archive to link reality and fiction. I intervene these memories; I cut the silhouette of a man that represents him, the void, the tangible that never exists but imaginary was always there.

These archives photos are in front of a sky background, where he lives now. These clouds harbor my thoughts, stories I was told, frustrations, and inquietudes. I also portrait myself trying to explore the grieve of someone I didn't know consciously. It is through this self observatory exercise that I understand that with him by my side I would never be who and where I am now.

It is by the construction and transformation of these memories and moments, I realized this is not his story, it is ours.

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  • In the interviews conducted there was a constant desire to put a face to a name. This photo is born from imaginary ideas about my father. In the few photos I found he always wore a hat.

  • 1998, Bogotá, Colombia. My mother and me.
    "Where are you Dad?"

  • 1999, Bogotá, Colombia.
    My first birthday. He left my mother when she was three months pregnant. He let my mother know that he didn't want to be part of this family or my father.

  • Collage, 1989, Yopal, Colombia
    "You left and with you left her smile too"

  • Naún Arévalo (my father) died the 11th of July 1999. This is his grave number. I visited his grave for the second time in 2016 looking to make a closure and peace with his absence.

  • 1991, Aguachica, Colombia.
    The only remaining photo where his face still recognizable.

  • Digital Collage.
    "When I was 8, I was living with my grandmother but after she died, my father made the decision to rent a home for my brother, the “nanny” and I. She was the one responsible for us. She was the closest thing to a mother.
    The role of parents for me is to protect their children. For me it was shocking to know that my own parents would have hurt me in different ways. His absence was not that he left and never came back, but his emotional disengagement towards us."
    Karol, 26, Tuluá, Colombia.

  • Archive photo and digital Intervention, circa 2003, Tuluá, Colombia.
    Karoll at her grandmother's house.

  • Digital Collage.
    "I am the oldest child from my mom and dad and from my dad, I am the third of four children.
    I used to have contact with him but around a year ago I decided to cut all contact with him because his function as a father for him was to send a WhatsApp message once in a month. For me, that’s not being a father. It was better to remove it from my life... He didn’t care anyway."
    Janine, 27, Mexico City, México.

  • Diptych.
    "My father grew up in a conservative, catholic and very chauvinistic house. My grandfather was abusive towards my grandmother. They were supposed to go along with that and not say anything because it would affect the family’s reputation.
    They were a family of that
    ilk. They eat saints and shit devils. He grew up in this environment and what more could be expected from him. That is why he expected me to get married really young and find a good man to support me. Imagine if he would have stayed, I would be by now married, with a child and at home."
    Janine, 27, Mexico City, México.

  • "I understood at a really young age that he didn’t want to be here and I accepted that I would never have a caring and loving father..."
    Yolanda, 27, Mexico City, México.

  • Archive photo, 1994, Mexico City, Mexico.
    Yolanda and her family at her sister's birthday.