Apparently, knowledge draws on from darkness to light, from the unknown to the known, from the unnameable to the catalogable, but all truth unearthed buries other possible truths. All consensus hides dissent.
Whether it is intended to bias uncomfortable episodes of history or to defend assumed scientific objectivity, whether for profit or propaganda purposes, power is exercised by burying old ghosts in order to invent new ones.
Florencia Rojas, in contrast, exhumates forgotten ghosts, moves layer by layer, from the top down, from the known to the unmentionable, from the firm ground to the muddy subsoil, digging underground tunnels between irretrievable times, between spaces impossible to reconquer if not it is with the imagination.
Although her interests have turned to the topographic theme as metaphorical umbrella of the idea of secrecy (historical, political, personal…), already in her first photographic series we could see a laminated, stratified view of the nature of the image.
Q- You call poetics from the occult your most recent searches (in Luna-Lager-Bunker and soon in Dehesa de la Villa), but I would say that you began to seek the occult when you investigated the hegemonic representation of the woman and her induced “pathologies” (hysteria through the revision of scientific photography), her anxiety (Vertigo), or the ideal of virtue spread by the Marian imagery (temperance that hides tear, binomy pleasure/pain…)
I would say that my proposals have moved from an interest in matters related to the mass spectacle and disagreement with the forms of representation that take place in it (especially the control over the body) towards what is outside the representation, outside the screens. There is a blinding effect on these screens. We are dazzled, in fact the idea of screen also corresponds with its other meanings related to concealment or cover-up. The supremacy of the visual has not brought a regime of absolute clarity, despite the increasingly sophisticated devices with which we take the images.
On the other hand, it is true that in my photographs there has always been a disturbing component, whether I photograph a face or document a hole in the ground, there is always a search for transmission of the unspeakable that is beyond the explicable. (a photograph is a secret about a secret, Diane Arbus said).
Q- The portrait genre (photographic, videographic) has helped you to investigate these ambivalent mimicry that condense extreme passions, contradictory natures and the insufficient of the image to capture such cognitive complexity, apart from its deceptive essence. Will the portrait still occupy a place in your projects?
I don’t know, I dedicated myself to the portrait for several years until it became a routine. I am not interested in establishing a formula, when the process ceases to be an interesting step to something else.
The time that I dedicate to the creation and artistic investigation is a breach by which I escape of all external imposition, independently of the project that I’m realizing is own time, a time of resistance. Some people dodge the system doing cruising, transcendental meditation or playing in a punk band, I walk with the camera and searching with a map, then I take a nap under a tree. That little time is sacred for me.
Q- Luna-Lager-Bunker takes its name from a Berlin amusement park converted into a Nazi work camp, being an abandoned bunker the only testimony to the war past. That vestige suggested other hiding places, hidden … physiological cavities, psychic black holes, dark movie theaters … Between the unspeakable essence of horror and the inscrutable of love … Places that share the fragility of a archaeological site or magic chest, that we must preserve without desecrate them?
I came to these places starting from a secret of my own. In photography I have always worked with conceptual intentions, taking the communicative load beyond what is presented in the images, so starting from that idea of secrecy I began to work in black holes like a burrow, the ear, the mouth, a dark room of a cinema or an old gold mine.
In this subjective search for secrets, I am finding realities that have been forgotten and which represent a point of intersection between the poetic intuition of the one who examines allegorical refuges and a political space on and from which to reflect.
Q- Now you are mapping another historically loaded territory, Dehesa de la Villa (Madrid), whose vestiges have been deliberately forgotten (bunkers and trenches barely visible under the bushes). Being a park frequented by retirees and sportsmen, these “remains of barbarism”, as you write, in what way do today’s uses influence your way of photographing? How will the cartography of the soul and the territory map overlap each other?
To be there is to perceive a scene in which absolute oblivion reigns as a consequence of a premeditated concealment of recent history. The remains of the Civil War are unmarked and difficult to locate. It is disturbing to observe the atmosphere in the park where the historical secrets occupy a subsoil on which visitors stroll idly.
I found interesting that poetic load of a park without landscaping in which so many hidden stories of the past are hidden for the one who arrives in the present, I continue to search and photograph what we do not see. This process related to memory and forgetfulness has to do with the photographic medium itself, the dark camera is also a bunker, a black hole that hides images that need to be re-veiled, which are a priori hidden to the eye.
As I said before, I arrive to these historical secrets containing a huge political burden from the need to address a secret of my own. All this overlaps in the process of walking through the same park over and over again. In this search for what was left out of all the screens, in this attempt to say something happened here or there is a fire in the subsoil, I am hiding and addressing other matters related to my own memory.
Group show Biunic17,
curated by Juan Ramón Rodríguez-Mateo and Iván de la Torre
Fundación Valentín de Madariaga
until 4th August, Seville