Dora García

Dora Garcia’s work represents a subtle, self-reflective approach to photography’s connection with transience. The title of her show, taken from an inscription found on some of Atget’s photographs, emphasizes this: “Va a desaparecer” (It will disappear) can be taken, in effect, to be the dictum of all photography. It is in the nature of the medium to announce that something that once existed was destined to fade into nothingness—and that becomes more patent the more it distances itself from any artistic pretension. When, as in this case, the effort is to photograph the very nature of the photographic—the fugitive, the transitory, the inaccessible of existence itself—we discover a work whose enormous beauty arises, without any aestheticizing concessions, solely from its own syntactic approach.

For example, Estados Transitorios (Transitory states; all works 2000) shows a face as it passes from sleep to waking; Aliento (Breath) evidences the photographer’s exhalation subtly invading the camera’s lens. Such pictures photograph the very “photographic instant,” and it is in this that they truly become radical exercises of what Duchamp called the “infrathin”—which is, without a doubt, the difference between the photograph of the photographed, of the “real,” and that of the photographic instant or the photographic act in and of itself. The photograph of a face dazzled by a flash—and the picture itself comes out charred as if by the shock of it—is the best example we might find of this lucid operation that is so characteristic of Garcia’s work.

Yet not all of the photographs assembled here necessarily display a fugitive temporality; the “it will disappear” is not only a logic of time. For example, some of them take pleasure in the indistinction, owing to an insufficient light, between a figure sleeping and the bed in which it lies. Again, “Luces Coincidentes” (Coincidental lights) is a series of landscapes seen by the light of the room from which they are observed, or of the plane in which one lands. Third example: In the series entitled “La Maquina Horizonte” (The horizon machine) it is as if the thoughts of the photographer, of the artist, were indistinguishably superimposed onto the model who lies sleeping on a book written by the former. Perhaps this idea of superimposing two modules that are simultaneously indiscernible and unmistakable, at once identical and never the same, is the strongest point of this work.

Here then we hear some “news from underground” of what the infrathin tells us when we are invited to imagine, as Duchamp suggested, the difference between two objects struck from the same mold. Perhaps the more interesting difference, however, is the one between a mold and each one of its objects. Say that the mold and its object correspond to “the real” and the photograph: the question would then be, which is the mold—which is the original and which is the copy? That question is increasingly difficult to answer—and the suspension of certainty is the guarantee of the poetic pleasure that the contemplation of these photographs produces. What is photographed is, exactly, what the photograph produces: its gaze, its inspiration, its tension, its light, something that is only there when it comes to be, something that like the object that comes out of the mold occurs only afterward, once this fading instant has been produced.

—Jose Luis Brea

Translated from Spanish by Michele Faguet.