Mechi Aliaga Pueyrredon Buenos Aires, Argentina
Mechi Aliaga Pueyrredon was born in Buenos Aires. She is inspired by art, life and nature. She loves to understand, admire and respect the diversity of cultures and any alive beings. She´s been through different experiences that, naturally, let her discover her passion for photography, having her work exhibit around the world. She developed her studies in Escuela de Fotografía Creativa Andy Goldstein, complementing them with artistic residencies and creative clinics, and workshops.
Mechi Aliaga Pueyrredon was chosen by Raom&Loba
Laatikkomo’s interview with Mechi Aliaga Pueyrredon December 27th, 2013
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
MAP: I´m from Buenos Aires, Argentina. During my childhood I used to spend summers in the countryside, which I believe made me experience and value this “different” culture from which I come from, the city.
I could find a “sub-world”, I started then to believe that every single little part of the World has a sub-world, a different reality from the one I have, other cultures, customs, and stories. This made me get interested and passionate about cultures.
So I decided to travel and experience other cultures. When I was 21 I lived one year in the US, in a family house, where I had a wonderful experience, I could live and deep myself into a beautiful story, other sub-world. By this time I used to express myself by writing.
I then naturally came back and re-explore the sub-world of the countryside in Argentina. Here I started expressing myself by photographs and I discover my passion for photography as an expression. I started the series “Men of my Land”, that for the moment is about men of Argentina, I still believe I have to continue exploring here, but I don´t want to limit myself to Argentina.
I have also lived in France, for 3 months, I have recently came back from there, I went to an artist residency, which I enjoyed and worked a lot in a photographic project called “sub-worlds” (abstract photography), but again, I could find and enjoy culture and customs 100%. It was like a magic time I could give to myself. So I´m still processing this trip.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
MAP: I used to stay hours staring at family and vacations photographs that made me help remember beautiful moments and I could transport myself to them.
My grandmother still has her house full of old and family photographs, so every time I was at her house, I used to make the walk that took me around the photos. I still do that. And now, the most I like more are the ones of her when she was little or from her parents or great parents. (By the way, my grandfather and great-grandfather used to take photographs as a hobby, so their photographs were from the 1870 on, so I drive myself crazy! I love to see in them people´s attitude in front of the camera, and all the details I can find in the photos that let me imagine the way they lived in their customs and culture, their stories).
My mom has always been a motivator of creativity and art, when I was small she gave me a basic Kodak camera for Christmas, so since then I´ve been taking photographs, and I´ve always loved that!
L: You are telling stories and raising questions with your work, but the story line is obscured by repetitive and beautifully composed images, which transform the story into delicate poems. What importance do the details of the narrative have on the overall impression of the photographic series? Or can the photographs exist, on their own, without a narrative?
MAP: Thank you! I´ve never thought of the transformation of a story into a poem. Very interesting! I believe that details are the clue, are important in everything, not only in these photographs, but in life.
Details are by definition “particulars considered individually and in relation to a whole”.
Talking about these series, details are part of the story, part of the composition of the poems you mentioned.
Every photograph has a complete story in it. But I think that for the concept of this project, these photos can´t exist on their own, it would probably become just a portrait, and here I´m trying to tell something that becomes stronger with the whole.
L: Does your series “Men of my Homeland”, which you are presenting at Laatikkomo, consider the same (or similar) issues as your project about the pre-deforested forests? (Preservation/conservation or devastation/deterioration of the old/traditional?)
MAP: Totally! In a subconscious way, I believe that all my works have something that links them, I didn’t realize it when I was starting them, but during the process, I could understand the connection.
Not in the type of the photographs; though I always work with natural light and that is what technically unites them, I work from reality to abstract; but on the concept, “Men of my Land” and “Who will save us” have this connection of preservation of the traditional / natural.
And it´s also linked “Men of my Land” and “Sub-worlds”. I believe they have this similar issue about the capture of a particle, a sub-world that can become real because I was there to capture it, I could intervene and because of my presence they are now real for everyone. The situation was there, at that exact moment, and my camera has frozen it, after that, that situation was gone, but it´s still alive in the photograph.
L: Can you tell us the context of the place or places in which the photographs of this particular series were taken?
MAP: The photographs are taken in what we call “pulperías” or “almacén de ramos generales”, they have no translation, because they are traditional places in Argentina. These places exist since 16th century in the countryside and the ones that are still alive are usually near what in the past was a train station for the transportation of coal or wood, etc.
They were typical commercial places that offered basics for regular life: food, drinks, candles, coal, medicine, fabric, etc. It was also a social common place for the “gaucho” who spent his free time, drinking, and playing cards, playing the guitar and organizing “palladas”. It was a very macho place, women didn´t go in there, just for buying necessary things for the house.
The most amazing thing of these places is that, they still exist, not that I know as old as 16th century, but at least from the 1800 on. The magic is still like in old times, the construction and decoration of the places are almost the same as the very first day they exist, they are used for the same intention and women still go in there to buy basics for their houses. So it´s a challenge when I get in there! As far from the city as narrow-minded men become.
I had a situation where the owners (two old men) didn´t talk and look at me for at least 30 minutes.
These characters are, in a way, also frozen in time, they do not look like nowadays.
L: As the famous riddle goes: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Do your photographs present similar riddles? What kind of noise do you want to make with your photographs?
MAP: Of course, this is part of what I question myself every time I´m working on one of my projects, because they talk a lot about that. I believe that they are sounding because I had the grateful opportunity of being there to hear the sound, capture it, and resound it, so that more people can hear it.
I guess the noise is just that, is what you see, simple, I capture what I feel and wish that everyone could feel through my eyes, through the photographs. In a way, is also a circle, the sound of my photographs would not exist if I had no spectators.
L: Could you list 5(or more) words you were thinking about when you made this work?
MAP: I still work on this project, I feel it like a life project.
Here are the words:
Thank you so much Mechi Aliaga Pueyrredon!