With her camera Trinidad Carrillo (1975) takes us into her mystical world. But this magical universe isn’t populated with fairies and knights but with the stories and faiths of people and places which are significant to Trinidad Carrillo. The stories are braided together in a combination of staged situations and autobiographical testimonies. With great sensitivity in portraying her close relations Carrillo manages to visualize her search and longing after something in her past which is left unsaid and for that reason left for the viewer to imagine. Carrillo is educated from School of photography at Gothenburg’s university M.F.A. in 2006.
Interview: Mette Vesterbæk Mortensen
Foto: Trinidad Carrillo & Mette Vesterbæk Mortensen
Trinidad Carrillo (SE)
Braiding 16. februar – 15. marts 2008
Jægersborggade 48, 2200 København N
web site: www.spark-art.dk
onsdag – fredag 12-17, lørdag 12-15
The photos in this exhibition are part of your project Braiding. Tell about this project.
Ok, then I might have to tell a bit about my personal life because it has to do with it. I was born in Peru and I moved to Sweden when I was almost 12. When I was 21 I went to live in Peru again. It brought a lot of thoughts unconsciously, I think, because I work unconsciously. After a year I got a picture that I felt something for and without my knowing I started doing pictures from that one. Suddenly I had all these sort of magical pictures and I saw it was a project. I moved back to Sweden two years after because I entered the University of Gothenburg. When I arrived everything was grey and rainy and I had been having like the time of my life in Peru. I found nothing interesting for me in Gothenburg so I made it my project to go back to Peru just to see if it came back. It did and I started going back every year. And without me noticing I was doing a big project which has been going on now for 10 years.
How are we to understand the title, Braiding?
3 years ago I came upon this name Braiding. It’s so perfect because one of the pictures from the beginning is me and a friend braided together. We both had very long hair and we did this picture in this magical place. When I came to Sweden to the school I cut my hair. I think every time something very dramatic happens in my life, and the same holds true for many other girls I think, I cut my hair. After a year when I went back and met my friend, she still had her long hair and it brought back some nostalgic and beautiful memories and thoughts about how my life had been and that things had changed for me, so I wanted to do a picture of me holding her hair. So I did another one in a magical place with trees that were like 400 years old. Every year I came back I did a hair picture. That was kind of the idea of braiding and also that I was aware that different realities were braided, like a normal everyday life with some kind of dream memory. I also braid documentary pictures with very staged pictures so when you see them you don’t know which is which in the end.
Do you have a relation to all the people in the pictures or do you use stand-ins?
Until last year I always had a relationship to them; maybe it was someone that had stayed at my house for a week but if you stay in the same house for a week you start to have a relation so that counts for me as well. And some people I meet very shortly but there is some kind of connection but mostly they are family and friends.
So somehow their histories or their destinies are braided together?
I don’t usually tell the things behind the stories. I think that when you look at the pictures each one of them have a story but they can also go together. You can braid them together and make things happen and wonder ‘who’s this’ and ‘who’s that’ and then start to understand that the people are close to me, the faces are repeating. Also braided distances because I also started to take pictures in Europe and in the end you don’t know what is where and it doesn’t matter.
How do you work, do you have an idea of what you want to photograph or do you work by impulse?
Both, every time I go to Peru I start the process long before I travel so I have some kind of small idea. I know I work unconsciously. I keep a thought in my head and then I see what happens. I like surprising myself, it’s more interesting than having something in mind and doing exactly the same. I think that is what I like about analogue photography, that it will always surprise you, because you can not see it immediately. For example what happens with light, I take about 30 % of my pictures during night or darkness which also in analogue pictures gives some sort of magic, you don’t see it in the moment it happens.
So you never work with a digital camera?
I just bought my first digital camera, a very small one, in September because I was doing a workshop in Ukraine. I mostly use it for snapshots and so. I know I will be forced to because the analogue things are disappearing which I think is very, very sad.
You were talking about telling stories. Each photo seems like a little story which put together form a larger story, so one can see the photos individually and as a whole. Does every photo represent a small part of you or a story that means something to you?
Sometimes I’m staging and at other times I’m more open-minded in finding them. Sometimes I don’t know what I staged and what is a real memory, so they all become real memories. It is like a testimony, It’s like here is proof that this magical thing is real because here is a picture of it.
Somehow it seems like you are travelling back into your own past and remaking it or representing it in another way?
Not necessarily, I think it has a lot to do with my present and I think that we are mostly never aware of our present and that’s what comes out. In the end it is the past; when I develop the pictures they are already in the past, but it is like I suddenly remember what was in my mind back then and what I was feeling. The pictures remind me of things. Some of the pictures have to do with sadness and many of them have to do with moments that are very happy to me. It is also the thing with photography like with everyone else which wants to keep things and I am going back to this place that I love or I’m here and having a moment that I love that I somehow want to document. But I know you can’t document things as they are. I don’t believe that, so I am totally open that it is going to show me something else, that still is and was real.
You have spent half your life in Peru and the other half in Sweden, do you feel torn between these two worlds or do you feel that you can unite them?
Both and that also has to do with braiding. I do feel that I live in, not in two different worlds, but on two different planets. I live in a different way here than I do there, I feel different, I see different, the sky is different, the light is different, and everything is so different. I think that there are so many parallel worlds and so many different levels in a human being.
Do you see this project as a search?
I have never seen it like there is a goal in the end, because I don’t know if it is ending tomorrow or when I’m 80.
Have you experienced that there are different ways or different traditions for photography in Peru and Sweden?
In Sweden I had to struggle with the discussion that people said my pictures were exotic and it was magic realism and had to do with South America. I was very angry about that because it is not exotic and I am not taking pictures of Peruvian Indians in traditional clothes in the mountains. It is people that I love. I don’t see it as exotic and I’m not after exoticism. I had to do a lot of struggle and I think it was good for me to know what I was doing. I was younger and didn’t want to be put into a box. I have read a lot of science fiction and fairy tales and I like movies that are kind of fantastic. And many Swedish writers do have that magic kingdom in their stories. And as I have introduced more photos of Europe people are beginning to forget the exotic.
I was wondering if you have ever read Alice in Wonderland?
My master essay was about that book and how it has a relationship with reality. Nobody has ever questioned it; they see it as just a fairy tale. But it has a lot to do with reality. What I like about this story is that it hasn’t got much moral. Every strange creature is asking Alice “who are you?” I particularly like the episode where she meets a unicorn and are stunned and saying that she didn’t knew unicorns existed for real and the unicorn says that if Alice starts to believe in him, he will believe in her because she is just as amazing a sight.
Can your project be seen as you asking who you are?
I think it has to do a lot with identity, absolutely. I think the reason for me to keep doing this is because I have not got an answer. When I know what every picture means I think I might stop, but as long as I have some kind of curiosity I will keep going. Photography captures something that happens in time and even in a time with an ongoing discussion of manipulated pictures I think we still in our subconscious believe that what is photographed is real. Photography is like documentation, a testimony whether I stage it or not.