SANTIAGO FORERO (Bogota, Colombia)
Santiago Forero (Bogotá, Colombia, 1979) is a visual artist and professor of photography. His work engages ideas about the body, identity and scale in relation to familiar media images. He received his M.F.A. in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2010. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in the U.S. like The Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston Center for Photography, Mexic-Arte Museum and the Austin Museum of Art. He has participated in different international photography festivals like Paraty em Foco in Brazil, Les Rencontres d’Arles in France and Unseen Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá.
As an artist, I work with the projection of my own figure to create pictures that investigate issues of the body, identity and domination. My research is focused in the analysis of familiar media images that promote the phenomenon where society generates superficial judgments about “the other”. With my self-portraits, I am not only referring to my own body, am also talking about the rest of the bodies to question how society molds its beliefs and ideas about its own body based on exterior experiences.
Story About Friends (2017-2018) is a continuation to my series Story About Gnomes (2008-2009), where I made self-portraits and portraits of my niece when she was 3 years old. For Story About Friends I worked with my niece 8 years later at a moment where she reached my own height. We began to stage pictures in which both of us appeared inside the frame and where both decided the action and the place where the narrative developed. I was interested in documenting through photography the growth of her body at an age where mine stopped growing. These two friends create a world inside a frame generating a contrast between a child’s and an adult’s body, generating new layers of identity and transformation. The images begin from a point of view where both bodies look similar at first glance, nevertheless when you look closer, they are pretty different.
By projecting my own image, a body type considered outside the average, I hope to question not only what is considered normal but also the prevalent visual imagery that is defining the way in which we are representing the body today.
Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
I have been working with film since I began my career in 2005. Even if I experienced the transition from film to digital I have always appreciated the uncertainty of the material because it still feels like an art practice. However, I have been taking advantage of both worlds, making my work with film and scanning it to produce high resolution digital image files that I will post-produce in the computer.
For me the process of scanning film is related to re-photographing, something that adds an intriguing quality to the images. The time cleaning the negatives and color correcting them in Photoshop relates more to the painter in the studio where you reach a point of hours of work where at some point you realize that the image is finished, like a painter that takes care of color, texture and even light.
My choice of continuing this project with film is related to the decision of having a visually coherent body of work, considering that Story About Gnomes, the first project I began photographing my niece was made with 6×7 color film. The material is not going to have a drastic evolution as digital technologies do, then, at the end I will expect a similar image quality when I finish the long term project.