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The first image in the history of photography, still preserved, was taken in 1827 by Joseph Nicephore Niepce. Standing by the window of his studio he captured, on a polished pewter plate, a view of the roofs of the farm in Le Gras; in order to obtain such an image, it took him eight hours of exposure to sunlight.

The next definite step would arrive in 1835, when Fox Talbot obtained the first negative on paper: a view from the window of his home in Lacock Abbey.
In these early days of photography, the creators of images had to arm themselves with, besides their camera and equipment, enormous amounts of patience in order to capture images that would last. Hours of experimenting with silver salts, bromides, iodides and many other substances were used to improve the techniques in an effort to reduce the time involved in the realization of the images. At the same time, durability was improved such that even today part of our visual history is preserved.

Recent technological advances for the capturing of images have been countless. Stepping from analog photography to digital photography dramatically revolutionized many concepts in photography. Time is not fundamental anymore; we can take a picture and immediately we can see it, print it, keep it or discard it. The hours dedicated to work in the lab are just a memory now, or belong to the stubbornness of some photographers who continue their dedication to the main ingredient in photography: time.

We have gained speed, hours of work are saved and consequently the amount of images to which we are exposed each day have been multiplied in a way that we barely allow ourselves to stop to see just one. We are part, in the words of Italo Calvino, a "humanity increasingly flooded by a deluge of prefabricated images".

The work presented by Lucía Messeguer in this exhibit gives us time to breathe in this race of images... she invites us to stop and look and read each one of the photographs, taken with the patience of the first makers of images. She moves us to reflect, presenting us with three powerful portfolios that generate in us, as spectators, a set of mixed and contrasting emotions. The first is a compilation of images taken in two concentration camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau; the second comprises landscapes of Forch, in Switzerland, "a piece of land, warm and alluring", in the words of the artist; the third Hokkaido, men against nature for survival. Messeguer has chosen three places loaded with energy: the first one with the energy left by pain, solitude and helplessness; the second filled with peace which moves us to contemplation.  Hokkaido is poetical, sublime.

To discover why the artist put these three works together in one exhibition is itself part of the exhibition and of our own reflections.  Nevertheless the artist  leaves clues that as spectators we slowly follow.


In the series of Auschwitz/Birkenau, Lucía documents and gives testimony to the architecture that housed the destruction of human beings: walls invaded with faceless presence, which still stand to remind us of that which we should never forget. 

The tracks of a railroad without return front the Auschwitz complex. The artist makes us walk around the exterior to little by little introduce us inside the barracks where so many stories ended.  Those who survived started all over again, carrying with them the indelible mark of this terrible piece of history.  Before and after Auschwitz: nothing would be the same.  Among them, writer and Nobel Prize Winner, Imre Kertèsz, a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchewald describes these camps as the "utmost truth of degradation of human beings in modern history".

Within the interiors of Auschwitz buildings, the eye of the photographer looks for windows, a recurrent element during her journey as an artist. Here, she transforms them in a presence that reveals itself through the light that passes through them, is reflected and looks for a way out. It is through them that we find the illusion of freedom, the hope for survival.

Lucía then stops at a spot in Forch, facing the naturalist landscape: a genre that has been unjustly forgotten and substituted by urban landscape in contemporary photography. 

Alfred Stieglitz, an American photographer known for his series of images of clouds called Equivalents, once said: "photography besides being a document should be the expression and the feeling of the photographer.  Messeguer blends herself with Forch, and captures the light in these points of meridian connections located a few kilometers from Zurich. She explores the landscape over the course of one year,  stopping time, and then letting it pass by.  The landscape is never the same. It is renewed every instant, it changes, it is transformed.  In the act of taking the photograph Messeguer is meditating, fragmenting, and then selecting parts of a whole: infinity. 

HOKKAIDODr. Viktor Frankl, another Auschwitz survivor, narrates the story of a young woman whose death he witnessed. This young woman knew that the end of her life was near and she told him, as she pointed out a tree that could be seen through the window of a barrack, "That tree is the only friend I've got in this solitude; I talk to it many times". When Dr. Frankl asked the young woman what the tree told her, she answered: "It tells me: I am here, I am here, I am the life, the eternal life."

So Messeguer, with the images of Auschwitz/Birkenau, Forch and Hokkaido, displays human deterioration, while at the same time, opens up for us luminous windows to peace, to reflection, a mystical contemplation of nature. 

Cristina Kahlo

México City, July 2004
Translated by Ariel Velasquez

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