Adriana Lestido

Adriana Lestido. Beyond Photography

by Martín Caparrós.

A retrospective at the Recoleta Cultural Center, that opens next Tuesday, shows the images of Adriana Lestido, 1979 – 2007. At the beginning as it can be seen, Lestido did photography. Now, we do not know.

Very few things thrill me. Things can cause any kind of effects: they interest, bore, clash, suggest, come to sight, affect, like, upset, dull, dilute, and quieten. But very few thrill. First of all, I mean to say, Lestidos`s photos thrill me. As it is obvious, nobody should care about this – but I do, a lot. What a fool I am, I want to know why. This reveals I still know nothing about her.

Many years ago – over 20 years now – Lestido did very good pictures. Very good pictures: there is a picture by Lestido – Marcha por la vida (March for life) 1982, where a mother and a girl shout out of anger, decision, wearing white scarves that summarized the atmosphere of a time. And she summarized, above all, the beginning of her search: since then, Lestido pictured mothers and daughters, mothers without daughters, daughters without. In the eighties, early nineties, she searched and photographed Casa Cuna (Infant and Youth Hospital), a hospital for children and young patients. Imprisoned women, imprisoned mothers. They were pictures of sadness, horror and extreme love: the love of someone who doesn’t know how to support that love. But they were still good photographs. Very good photographs.

Little by little, Lestido got closer. In 1992, when we published her prisoners in Los Hornos prison in Página /30, I wrote that “photography works, many times, as a way of keeping away at a distance: the lens stands between oneself and that, that which allows you to look both without neither touching nor being touched. These pictures are, instead, the result of a contact, of a painful approximation; a close encounter where the object photographed is somebody familiar, recognizable, someone that would even ask for an answer regarding their own image, for those afternoons, for that obstinacy, for many of their pictures. Adriana Lestido reached the boundary of photographic narration. It is difficult to enter even further, better, within a space, within an atmosphere. And take pictures.

Later on, at some time, something happened – it would be common to say it was a long child labour. In the mid-nineties, during five years, Lestido launched her most brutal series: Madres e Hijas (Mothers and daughters). We know Lestido does not have any daughters and she has not had a mother for a long time: with this series she started leaving her camera, a camera: that disturbingtool which men and women who take pictures use.

I discovered it slowly; she had deceived me – Had she deceived me? Had I taken myself in? In any case, I was deceived when I thought, when I wrote at least – in 1992 that it was difficult to get closer and better; with those mothers and daughters she did it even more. Or perhaps, she did not, it is not that she got closer; it is that se confusedly turned into what she showed. May be that was the key: as from the Madres e Hijas (Mothers and daughters), Lestido stopped showing, she closed her eyes. There is nothing more difficult, more extreme –though I said something like this fifteen years ago – than taking pictures with your eyes closed; without looking. Lestidos´s pictures are no longer glances; now they are tact, smells, noises, movements, sensations. They become something like images out of a wordless abracadabra, with a slight turn, because they wouldn’t know what else to do, though they are something else.

Lestido then stopped taking pictures: she makes shadows smells touches blinks, those things, settled on a piece of paper in black and white. She makes things – who knows how they are called – that thrill. In my particular case, at least, they thrill me so, so much.