symbiologies. Artistic practices in a planet in emergency.

By Javier Trímboli

CCK, Bs. As. 2021.

Guadalupe Miles was born in Buenos Aires, but her photography acquired character from her immersion, which has been going on for more than twenty years, in the Chaco of Salta, with the Wich’í community. In these two images, different in color, the human –or terrestrial– bodies are linked in continuity with nature. In one, captured from above, heads, backs, hands, and barely any of the legs and arms of children, to such an extent that they are smeared with mud that for a moment casts doubt on what we are seeing. Are they not an illusion, are they not yet unfired clay statues? In the other, the camera flush with the ground, a young man emerges from the river, but he is also the river. Although it is not the norm in the work of Guadalupe Miles, it is inevitable to pay attention to the fact that we do not see faces in these two photographs, only heads, almost always necks. As a sign of what for us, inhabitants of excessive cities, has become incomprehensible in that world. However, we suppose them beautiful, happy. Miles says that his photography does not have “documentary intent,” that the community actively participates in assembling the images, that he is interested in “running some of the usual reading codes” about “indigenous” people, like that in quotes.” The twist that these decisions produce is aesthetic and political. On an impious page, Juan Bautista Alberdi celebrated in advance the day on which the “savage of the Chaco” would have no choice but to “say goodbye to the domain of your pasts.” Also to the rivers, to the birds, to the forests, before the advance of commerce and industrial society. A world, his, shocked to destruction by the “Merchandise planet” (Danowski and Viveiros de Castro). Contrary to what Alberdi and so many moderns imagined, even with defeat on their backs, fragments of the experience of the Amerindian peoples survived. Guadalupe Miles’s photographs are proof. Today, when the civilizational crisis to which Modernity and capitalism has led is alarming, it is worth asking whether the imagination and power to try another life on Earth will be found in those fragments.

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