El tercer viaje a Chapelco

Diego Ballestrasse

2019 - 2020


El tercer viaje a Chapelco (The Third Trip to Chapelco) aspires to explore the interior of certain photographs and the images that were confined in them, images of a physical place where a family nucleus was forged and its first hopes gradually took shape. This is a journey into the past and a family imaginary, but also a journey through the photographic medium itself, its materiality and the sensitive experience implied by observation.

The starting point of the project is a series of slides taken by my parents during two trips to the Argentinean Patagonia, the first during their honeymoon in 1969 and the second, ten years later, when I was five years old and travelled with them and my siblings. The third trip to which the title refers unfolds in the present, through these photographs.

What makes these photographs fertile material is the way in which we move through them, the possibilities that open up when we see them not so much as the result of a specific moment, but as a starting point. In El tercer viaje a Chapelco I observe the photographs as if through a telescope turned upside down and discover that it’s possible to actually reach the gaze of those who took them. In this reverse journey, certain unsuspected extensions are defined on the other side of the photographs; the places that were once inhabited and from where we can now glimpse the landscapes in which the yearnings for a family unit were captured shortly before being thwarted.

After two decades away from the country of my birth, the photographs from the family archive have taken on a singular role in my artistic practice; they have become in themselves a sort of optical instrument. Observing what can be seen 'through' photographs and stills allows me to unravel latent dimensions of my family's past, that which remained buried beneath the traces.

Working with these photographs and with the images that they continue to reveal so many years later is a way of travelling through family memories, their erratic functioning, their intervals and their distances. While on a more intimate level this project suggests the possibility of approaching those spaces of desire and frustration generated by the family nucleus, El tercer viaje a Chapelco is also an invitation to contemplate the images from another angle: an opening to new spaces within photography where other ways of relating to them are exposed. It’s from this point of view that each photograph, more than a closed surface of a past event acts as an element of mediation and can be unveiled to the viewer as a doorway to an infinite number of images.

Note: This work is made up of three parts: a video piece; a triptych and an installation of a series of images printed on transparent material. This project was presented for the first time recently at Landskrona Photo Festival, within the framework of Parallel Intersection 2020.

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  • Diego Ballestrasse_The Third Trip to Chapelco_Installation at Landskrona Foto 2020

  • Diego Ballestrasse_The Third Trip to Chapelco_Video