Adriana Lestido


by Carlos Sersale di Cerisano.

Adriana Lestido's photography is lauded throughout Argentina and internationally and we are honoured to present this selection from her major retrospective exhibition, Lo Que Se Ve (What Can Be Seen), here in Johannesburg.

Lestido's work is an emotional experience, and not one that permits the viewer to merely glance at her images. One is drawn in by her subtly intense gaze and is met with the equally intense look of her subjects, somehow all inseparable, and yet autonomous. The essence of Adriana's work remains deeply rooted in her personal connection to photography and to the subjects she explores, who allow her in to their worlds to capture such transcendent moments of reflection, of relation, of emotion, of perception. Moments that are not necessarily seen, but rather perceived, and later, looking at the photograph, one may be able to see What Can Be Seen.

The artist refers to much of her work as ‘subjective documentary', a realisation of her experience of inner time that is simultaneously both narrative and social discourse, and ultimately existential. I admire her commitment and the persistence of her themes, with motherhood in its various manifestations being particularly noticeable, and ultimately her choice of photography as a way of surviving, of grappling with herself after her own experience of Argentina's military dictatorship from 1976-1983, during which she tragically lost her partner and too many close friends.

Viewing the exhibition is like traveling through an interior network of connections infusing her most intimate view of the world, a world of time, beauty, vulnerability and, mostly, the difficulties of love. It is an exhibition to be slowly seen, absorbed and felt.

During my years here, we have worked towards building relationships in many areas but one that is particularly close to my heart is arts and culture.

We have presented a number of events and collaborative projects, and have worked at an official level to secure endorsement and support from both our governments. This led to an Arts and Culture Agreement being signed in December 2011 between South African and Argentina, committing our countries to ongoing and permanent cooperation. At the fourth meeting of our regular Bi-National Commission in 2013, we approved a two-year programme of arts and cultural exchange, encompassing a range of artistic disciplines and approaches.

This is the first programme of its kind to be implemented between Argentina and any African country and reflects our country's commitment to improved relations with South Africa, to South-South linkages, and, significantly, to the support of the arts as a meaningful way to create connections, understanding and admiration between our peoples - and for its own sake, for free expression.

Lestido's exhibition is one of the first within the framework of this season of exchange. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship is proud to show her work here in South Africa as one of Argentina's most respected and distinguished photographers.

We look forward to continued and inspired artistic exchange between Argentina and South Africa.