My work revolves around rethinking family and personal memory.
I was born in 1979 in Lima, Peru to a Chilean father and a Peruvian mother. My mother passed away when I was very young, which meant I was raised by my German-Chilean grandparents. My grandmother, a true perfectionist in every way, served as the narrator and connector of my childhood. Her voice would validate my existence here. Together, we overcame the generational gap that divided us by seeing as it an opportunity rather than an obstacle.
I am obsessed with the past, I later realized. For many, genealogy only means a certain collection of names and dates. For me, genealogy is also a vehicle. It means that the relatives that lived before you are also able to live through you. I like to think of it as something fluid as opposed to static. Genes, personalities, traits and explorations are in constant collision, being manifested through family members regardless of them being alive or deceased. I believe we are a product of all those people who came before us, as if many beings dwell within us and would like us to hear their voices. As someone’s descendant we answer the call. The transgenerational group is integrated within the individual. The essence is always there.
Eventually this interest grew deeper and deeper and led me to further investigation, not only names, but also personal stories that I collected during my visits to relatives in Peru, Chile and Germany. In this series called “Transgeneration,” my work is the product of a performance in which I become different men and women of my family throughout history documented through the photographic medium. I recreate a moment lived by an ancestor using my body as a vehicle. Costumes and characterization come into play. I study the fashion of the time, let my hair or beard grow, shave, perform all the necessary acts in order to appear as close as possible to the character I am going to play. If we share the same genetic information, why can’t we look the same? I once said to myself looking at a portrait of Eleonora in my living room. I then headed straight to the hairdresser and asked her to match the hair in the picture. Since then, the obsession has not ceased.
And, since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I carry these acts out using the same perfectionism I was taught to imitate. I work up to the same standards that my grandmother and her grandmother lived by—emulating what I believe to be beautiful and only surrounding myself with that. Genealogy then, allows me to narrate stories that I believe to be real because they are perfect.