Alessandra Sanguinetti and The adventures of Guille & Belinda

“If we weren’t limited and changed by time, if we were eternal, I wonder what we would be doing.” Magnum photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti talks about her project The adventures of Guille & Belinda, a series featured in the photography meeting Ciudades Miradas (Buenos Aires, 10-24 October 2015).

Alessandra Sanguinetti (1968) is an American photographer. She has been a member of Magnum Photos since 2007, and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Born in New York, she moved to Argentina at the age of two and lived there until 2003. Currently, she lives in San Francisco, California. Her best known long-term work is a documentary photography project about two cousins – Guillermina and Belinda- growing up in the countryside of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has followed them as they dreamed, fantasized about becoming adults, and became young mothers, while their relationship kept on growing and changing. Alessandra is one of the six featured artists of CIUDADES MIRADAS, a collective curatorial project between the PMH team – Giuseppe Oliverio, Ignacio Golo, and Nicolas Janowski – and Ananké Asseff. Here, she talks about her long term project The Adventures of Guille & Belinda, and her thoughts on photography.

Photo by © Alessandra Sanguinetti

Tell us what first motivated you to document Guille & Belinda’s daily life. Why is the project divided into two parts?

I’d say it was Belindas high singing voice, her humor and her huge mass of lions mane black hair, together with Guillerminas earnestness. Watching them interact was irresistible. The separation of the work in parts happened naturally. There was a feeling of change and something being left behind at one point. After that, it was all about transition, redefinition, kind of waiting for life to happen, and now they’re settling into who they are and carving out their place in the world.

This series and much of your work focuses on notions related to circumstance, the passage of time, and the constant closeness to death. What attracts you to these subjects?

Everything that is produced in the sphere of art touches on these three themes to a larger or lesser degree. That’s kind of interesting to think about: if we weren’t limited and changed by time, if we were eternal, I wonder what we would be doing… What kinds of poems would be written, would melancholy exist, would fear exist..?

You have stated on many occasions that childhood defines us as individuals; that we as adults are a result of our childhood. In what ways does this touch you and your own experience?

Yes…we are just overgrown, sometimes wonderful and sometimes grotesque versions of our nine year old selves. Always trying either to escape or go back to our childhood, but you can’t do either, except in the realm of art. Through photography I can explore it again in a way.

In your photography you observe the lives of others, as a way to understand your own. What conclusions, if any, have you come to while developing this project?

I wish I’d come to conclusions, but I don’t think I can. Maybe my last thoughts the minute before I die will be my conclusions. But not even that. I feel I am changing at every minute, so whatever I have learnt, needs to be re-learnt for the new circumstance. I guess I could say that one thing I’ve learnt through my work is that I can’t escape myself. That there’s no use in fighting the patterns. There is so little you can control.

Guille & Belinda became a life-long project for you, and also for your subjects – what are their thoughts on this? Are they conscious of this life register they have?

Yes, they are very aware of what I’m doing, and that they’re stuck with me for the long haul. As to their thoughts on the work, I’ll leave that for them to answer.

Talking specifically about photography as a media that plays constantly with its truthfulness. What is your position in relation to this?

That a picture is no more truth or fiction than a news report, a novel or a poem. Just depends what you demand of it.

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