09 November 2015
09 November 2015 - Written by Luján Agusti
“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 anAmerican photographer. She has been a member of Magnum Photos since2007, and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Born in New York, shemoved to Argentina at the age of two and lived there until 2003.Currently, she lives in San Francisco, California. Her best knownlong-term work is a documentary photography project about two cousins– Guillermina and Belinda- growing up in the countryside of BuenosAires, Argentina. She has followed them as they dreamed, fantasizedabout becoming adults, and became young mothers, while theirrelationship kept on growing and changing. Alessandra is one of thesix featured artists of CIUDADES MIRADAS, a collective curatorialproject between the PMH team – Giuseppe Oliverio, Ignacio Golo, andNicolas Janowski – and Ananké Asseff. Here, she talks about herlong term project The Adventures of Guille & Belinda, and herthoughts on photography.
Photo by © Alessandra Sanguinetti
Tell us what firstmotivated you to document Guille & Belinda’s daily life. Why is the projectdivided into two parts?
I’d say it was Belindas highsinging voice, her humor and her huge mass of lions mane black hair,together with Guillerminas earnestness. Watching them interact wasirresistible. The separation of the work in parts happened naturally.There was a feeling of change and something being left behind at onepoint. After that, it was all about transition, redefinition, kind ofwaiting for life to happen, and now they’re settling into who theyare and carving out their place in the world.
This series and much of your workfocuses on notions related to circumstance, the passage of time, andthe constant closeness to death. What attracts you to these subjects?
Everything that is produced in thesphere of art touches on these three themes to a larger or lesserdegree. That’s kind of interesting to think about: if we weren’tlimited and changed by time, if we were eternal, I wonder what wewould be doing… What kinds of poems would be written, wouldmelancholy exist, would fear exist..?
You have stated on many occasionsthat childhood defines us as individuals; that we as adults are aresult of our childhood. In what ways does this touch you and yourown experience?
Yes…we are just overgrown,sometimes wonderful and sometimes grotesque versions of our nine yearold selves. Always trying either to escape or go back to ourchildhood, 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 observethe lives of others, as a way to understand your own. Whatconclusions, 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 Idie will be my conclusions. But not even that. I feel I am changingat every minute, so whatever I have learnt, needs to be re-learnt forthe new circumstance. I guess I could say that one thing I’velearnt through my work is that I can’t escape myself. That there’sno use in fighting the patterns. There is so little you can control.
Guille & Belinda became a life-long projectfor you, and also for your subjects – what are their thoughts onthis? Are they conscious of this life register they have?
Yes, they are very aware of whatI’m doing, and that they’re stuck with me for the long haul. Asto their thoughts on the work, I’ll leave that for them to answer.
Talking specifically aboutphotography as a media that plays constantly with its truthfulness.What is your position in relation to this?
That a picture is no more truth orfiction than a news report, a novel or a poem. Just depends what youdemand of it.