AN INTERVIEW WITH SERGIO BELINCHON
Often considered as necessarily 'digital', the work of Sergio Belinchon opposes the believe that post-photography excludes analogue photography from its processes. Manually altering analogue images, Sergio beautifully captures the uncanny of 'traditional' photography, proofing that photography is indeed not dead. We spoke with him about his creative processes and the idea of 'anti-photography'.
“Tell us about your work. What do these beautifully distorted photographs convey?”
This new work “Album”, which I am working on, is a series of works related to the photo album. The project is related to photographic fact; using found photographs, amateur or anonymous and manipulating them to create new pieces of work to transform their original signification to endow other meanings. Album is an open set of portraits where I manipulate the pictures with sandpaper, dealing again with pictorial matters, transforming old photographs by breakage, scratches and stains.
There are different parts in this work. One part has to do with memory and evocation, where I present a photo album made of 25 photographs completely sanded, showing only the eroded “ashes" of those photographs, collected in 25 small canisters inside a box. Another part of the work, “Gallery of Illustrous Men” is a set of scratched photographs similar to that of politician portraits but by creating distortions that make the person unrecognizable, the photographs become more like paintings or drawings in their concept. Another part of the work is the series “Men in Suits” which are photographs that illustrate male power in politics, finance, business… by tearing just their faces, removing by hand each face in some aggressive way.
"And what do these series tell us about the state of photography?"
In the end, all these parts have to do with photography, but also with anti-Photography, rejecting my usual way of working and how I approach Photography. It all started with the idea of breaking Photography, to attack it, as a cathartic exercise with the media I have been using for some 20 years.
"What are the themes of your work?"
Looking back at all my work, I could say my main subject has been the representation of the space; how we see it, what a certain space means and how it is modified by people using different media, mainly photography, but also shooting films or editing amateur Super 8 found footage. I have also been using old found material, as the Super8 films I already mentioned, but also anonymous photographs of my collection for the work “El Viaje” where I made a selection of 20 images to talk about the idea of traveling, tourism through amateur private photos that cover also the whole history of photography, with early pictures from the late XIX century to nowadays.
"You consistently distort faces in images that appear to be very old, what fascinates you to black and white analogue photography?"
I started “Album” just some months ago. Tired of myself and my way of working, I decided I wanted to change that. Influenced of course by personal issues and tired of depending too much on-screen work; I decided to look for something more manual, more studio related and started looking at hundreds of photos and photo albums I have been collecting for many years.
Erasing, scratching or destroying an old photograph was, first, a revulsive act for myself, against my “clean” way of working. It was challenging when you think you are working with pictures up to 100 years old, meaning that all changes done to them are forever. I face this scratching and sanding with a lot of respect, but with the aim to build something new out of those pictures thrown away - I usually buy them at flea markets. This is very fascinating, how something unique can be transformed into a piece new of work of myself, how I can give a new meaning to existing things.
"Do you consider yourself a photographer?"
Yes, I consider myself a photographer with an expanded way of working.