25 May 2016


25 May 2016 - Written by Veronica Sanchis Bencomo

Universus looks to celebrate natural beauty, exploration, climate change and science. Tatiana Parcero continues to combine found imagery with her body to make work that involves us all.

©Tatiana Parcero, from the series Universus

Tatiana Parcero (Mexico City) is a photo and video based artist. She has an MA from New York University and the International Center of Photography (NYU/ICP) in the fields of Art Theory and Photography, and a BA in Psychology from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows at venues including: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOT) Tokyo, Japan, Lowe Art Museum, Miami, FL, Houston Center of Photography (HCP), Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach California (MoLAA), Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, The Mexican Museum, San Francisco, CA, The Museum of Modern Art, NY, USA; Bienal de la Habana, Cuba, Photographic Triennial, Tampere, Finland, Primavera Fotográfica, Barcelona, Spain, to name just a few. Most recently, her solo show “Universus” was shown at Centro Cultural Recoleta (CCR) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and until September 2016 “Cartographies” will be on display at the Miami International Airport.

She currently lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

How did you get interested in working with the body as an exploring metaphor?

I studied psychology as an undergraduate. I have always been interested in understanding our place in the world. I think my work, as for many other artists, are a response to many subtle reactions in life, things that come together and make sense, or things that trouble us because have been unresolved.

While I was still in college and mainly studying psychology, I attended a photography workshop (coordinated by Pedro Meyer) after which I started to make this kind of photographs. From the beginning, I explored my ideas through my body in videos and still photographs. Psychology became a tool for my work, and so photography too. Both have been very helpful to go deeper in my explorations: my understanding of my place in the world and of our place in the world as Humans. Though it was initially intuitive, using the body in my work remains a conscious choice. We experience the world through our bodies; I find it is a powerful way to explore themes for myself and to involve viewers.

Your work invites the viewer to reflect upon topics such as; identity, memory, landscape, nature and migration. Can you talk about how you explore these issues?

My artistic process almost always involves visual mapping, overlay, literal and physical layers. With photography and mixed media I juxtapose the human figure (which in most of the cases is my own body) and found imagery. From the start, I have integrated different sources into my work such as: anatomical drawings, Pre-Columbian codices, colonial and astrological maps, chemical constructions, and, now in Universus, naturalist-style drawings. I combine these found images with my body to make work that involves us all.

I explore complex themes like what is our place in the universe or what is the impact of colonization on human culture. My work exposes what lays beneath the surface, physically and psychologically. It reveals truths and trespasses as much as it celebrates natural beauty, exploration, and science.

Throughout the years, I think subtle shifts in my work have established the use of the body as a universal symbol. Through layering and juxtaposition I show the body “as container for” and “as connected to” histories, truths, ideas, and so on. The themes in each of my series relate in some way to moments in my own life.

©Tatiana Parcero, from the series Universus

Why did you title your most recent work, Universus?

The word universe comes from the Latin, Universus, composed of, unus, (one) and versus (turned or converted). Meaning, one and everything that surrounds it. The word unus, claims an integral that doesn’t admit a division. This is how universe meant the point where everything meets and turns.

Universus means whole in Latin. I wanted to use a universal language to describe the series because in the images there is an integration of all: body and nature. In the photographs, the imagery that is superimposed on the body is depicted in a poetic way to explore the concept of change as it relates to global and contemporary themes of migration, disappearance, emptiness, as well as the everlasting kinship between man and nature. Combining self-portraits with naturalist illustrations metaphorically trace the lineage between personal experiences to the broader human experience.

©Tatiana Parcero, from the series Universus

How are these two images (just above) interconnected with your Universus project? These images seem to read so differently to the ones where you have used your body as a canvas.

Indeed, some of the images in the Universus series, seem different to the whole project, and in fact, I used different visual methodology. These images, are aesthetically clean and minimal; they are literal - they use fragmentation as a call for attention. Our eyes, look to connect the broken vision of a beautiful vista. Sometimes, we don’t miss or appreciate things until they are gone - it is time to stop and take notice of the condition of our planet. That is what these images are about.

©Tatiana Parcero, from the series Universus

You work with photography and video. How do these two practices interlace or complement in your practice?

In my first series, I used video to document the movement of my body to not make it a static image, this process allowed me to get every detail and choose from different poses. During that time, I made many video pieces, such as independent works. However, I dropped video to begin with the use of black and white negative.

Since I took this shift in my work, I started to explore different techniques, therefore, I am always trying new approaches, in which I can use photography, print techniques or transfer images to different surfaces, this is something that happens very natural, but it very much depends on the series I am working on though.

I am currently using digital video and it is easier to edit. The evolution of technology gives a better access to show the image in an immediate way. You can make photographs and videos with a cell phone or with a camera, and you get the instant gratification, this process keeps you active and exploring with the image.

© Tatiana Parcero, from the series Universus

Would you say as digital technologies have developed further your work has been influenced by these digital shifts?

The changes in technology make us adapt and modify the way we work. We can continue using film cameras and print digitally, and this for me is positive. In my personal practice, there were changes in comparison to how I did my first series, it is not as manual as twenty years ago – I don’t work in a darkroom printing my own photos – I do continue using acetates sheets, but the printing and the montage are much major now. This change has given me the possibility to try different options in my work, which in older methods would have taken me longer. What is important is to have clear the project and to use technology as a tool, without stopping to look for new ideas in how to present the work. For example, in the last years, I produced pieces using the technique of transferring photographs to fabrics and wood in other objects, which enriches not only the work but the creative process too.

You are very interested in the topic of climate change and the importance of preserving natural resources. How do you represent these issues in your work?

The diptychs of landscapes in the Universus series raise these issues most specifically. Their emptiness represents what could disappear from our natural world. I hope that when people see these photographs, they will think about the fragility of our planet and what may no longer exist if we continue on our destructive course.

The questions I ask myself and I want the viewers to consider when they see my work include: what is the meaning of nature in our lives or what would happen if we run out of natural resources. These questions have troubled me for as long as I can remember, and the way to discover the answers and recourse, for me, is through expression. I also hope people see them as a call to action.

I intend to keep creating work that motivates viewers to become responsible citizens and get involved in protecting our natural resources. It is maybe too soon to know for sure, as I continue to work in this series, but it is possible the shift in my work (like in these diptychs and tones in the Fin y Principio pieces) mark a turn from inner to outer reflection.

To learn more about this project, visit Tatiana's profile

Written by

Veronica Sanchis Bencomo

Reading time

8 minutes

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