Visione Artistica: the infants of Adriana Duque

You must have wondered where Pedro was last week because he did not show up on the site with any post, let me explain my situation: my classes returned (after months of strike) and I’m in a impressive rush with work, more work and tests. .. but I always try to put some art in my week, so I went in the Artrio yesterday in the little free time I had.
I will not say I was impressed or disappointed, I found the event too commercial with works on each square meter which did not allowed a total experience of these, only the Gagosian disposed of a large space for its sculptures which for me was one of the highest points of the event. But this post will not talk about any famous and renowned artist, I want to talk about the author of one of the works I liked most in  the event, Adriana Duque.

Adriana Duque was born in Manizales, Colombia in 1968. In that city she completed her undergraduate studies in Fine Arts at the University of Caldas. In 2001 Adriana was awarded a scholarship by both the Colombian government and the French embassies, which enabled her to study digital photography in Barcelona (Spain) and travel throughout several cities in France where she had the opportunity to visit some of the most important collections of classic painting as well as attend the International Photography Festival of Arles in the south of France.

In 2001 Adriana began her photographic work. From the beginning she showed a great interest in the idea of endless childhood, filled by the ambiguous characters from the magic world of the fairy tales and complemented by elements borrowed from rural contexts.

She practices a photographic mannerism in which she explores staged social landscape realities. Her photographic “pictures” are mis en scenes of her own inspiration, in which the common denominators are the encounters and contrasts between high Western culture and its myths with the spatial and social dystopia of her own country. The photographic images of her work allude to painting, theatre, literature and the cinema. The silence in painting, the light in cinema, the immediateness of theatre and the superficiality of advertisement images can be perceived through these images; they are fictitious performances staged for the camera and subsequently constructed in the computer that result in a claustrophobic and hermetic world of illusion and wonderment.

There is a constant confrontation between realism and fantasy in the images produced by this artist. What is real, they reveal, can only be captured in its essence by simulation. The idea is authentic and the image is the fiction. Although she seems to demonstrate the contrary, her work is not endowed with a specific narrative but rather develops on the basis of a series of suggested actions: more based on the implications of the image than on description of it. The contents of these multiple layers suggest structures of comprehension –sometimes too bizarre to be real– which ultimately reinforce the sense of suspicion and intrigue they arouse in viewers. Just as in the work of other contemporary photographers, scenes in her work are filled with subjective meanings, in which every symbol is charged and each connection, perverse. This emphasis on the psychic role ends up producing the opposite effect, and the elaborate symbolic structure fatigues coherence and suggests the impossibility –or negation– of believing in the organization principles of the characters and the story.
Works such as those of the North American photographer Anna Gaskell share the construction of photographic episodes based on free reinterpret Lewis Carroll. Gaskell´s work, just like the work of Adriana Duque, has developed the use of photographic scenes that in Gaskells´s case address feminine adolescent identity using borderline narratives. Although Duque´s work seems not to explicitly address psychosexual issues, the lost innocence of these girls is marked by traumas made evident in manifestations of early maturity.
Next there are some parts of what she has said an interveiw to an art magazine:

“When I was a girl, I spent hours in my grandmother’s library looking through the Universal Encyclopedia of Art, admiring the faces and attire of the strange characters masterly painted in those pages. I’d absorb every detail of the pleats in the silky dresses, the lace, the velvet, the jewelry design, the complicated hairdos, etc. Fashion as an affirmation of what is beautiful has always been my true obsession. I‘m always confirming, in modern fashion, these observations about classical attire.”

“My images sit in the middle of reality and fiction. Digital manipulation is merely a tool to reinforce the unbelievable condition defined by the characters. Children have an inherent, undecipherable nature that produces a halo so extraordinary it can hardly be the result of a digital trick! I’m not denying the endless possibilities of digital technology, but it is a resource that I mete-out for effectiveness.”

“I’ve always believed that fairy tales and myths are archetypal mirrors of society. They give meaning to values and emotions unchanged across culture and time. Their characters embody complex existential subjects, but it’s as if every story were a game; the players a series of emotions, values, anti-values, and dreams.
My work could be interpreted as absolute fiction, or, as connected to characters within my environment – my own unique history.”

“More than a distancing effect, I attempt to create an astonishing effect. Astonishment is an effective and affective way to approximate reality. It has the power to capture us with wonder, even if for a brief second. I want to create a reaction in the viewer through beholding something familiar but undecipherable at once.”

“The dream-state defines a place where nothing is controlled by reason; like quicksand, like dark and light at the same time – undecipherable. It’s the same Promised Land on the other side of the mirror from which I derive my obsession with Alice and her ability to travel through parallel-realities. Her constant physical and emotional fluctuations, her uncontrollable swings from sleep to vigil, and her pseudo-rational questions are all conceptual elements I systemically add to my work.”

Since 1998 Adriana Duque has followed a continuous and personal creative path, a sort of intimate visual search in which reality turns out to be a shifting and uncertain territory. Currently she lives and works in Bogotá (Colombia). I believe that her work has an interjection of the real seeming into the fantastical that most eloquently subverts our precepts of reality. Objects of lucidity are layered across time-and-space-bending idealized and fantasized scenarios. Likewise, hyperrealism is attenuated by escapism. Within the balance, Duque inches deceptively close to an ultimately elusive reality.
I hope to hear more from her in the future!


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