The shape of the void

Limited Edition

Paula Teller



The shape of the void

I went to the Guna Yala indigenous community on the south coast of Panama to collect images in order to go back to the calm of the laboratory to compare and analyze the findings.
I knew that the camera could be an obstacle. Well-known is what indigenous think about photography and its threat to steal our soul. In the other hand, there are many photographic works that look these people as "primitive", "different" or just "exotic". Although last century, anthropology and social studies changed a lot the way they study these cultures , we still see so many works that just want to reaffirm o justify an idea of ​​superiority, always reifying any different one.

I aimed to make images recording objects and people through casts and voids. This method allowed me to work in a very similar way as photography does, in an index way. I wouldn´t work with sculptural or carved recreations, but people or objects would leave their traces on the mud or clay, as light used to do on silver halides. The casts would work as photographic negatives.
With the casts I recorded the shape of the the void and they became my negatives
Finally I found the possibility of thinking about History and the passage of time. The idea of ​​globalized, dematerialized world crashes against a totally different paradigm that nevertheless is contemporary. I think about history as discontinuous fragments of temporalities that sometimes overlap without following a linear structure. I do not look at the remote past and its lost objects as a trace of its identity, but as the breaking of a timeline where the possibility of relating fragments allows me to think others ways of seeing.

In this picture, there is a cast of a man held by a boy from the community

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