Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spiraling Time: Reflections on Leandro Katz and Paola Santoscoy

On March 15 and 16, 2013, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley presented the symposium Spiraling Time: Intermedial Conversations in Latin American Arts. In the audience were students from Professor Julia Bryan-Wilson's History of Art course Latin American Art Since 1920. We are grateful to them for sharing with us their reflections on some of the lectures and conversations they heard.  This post is from student Aine Stuart.

Leandro Katz and Paola Santoscoy in conversation at Spiraling Time.

After Jeffery Skoller introduced Leandro Katz and Paola Santoscoy to the audience, he explained his interest in bridging the gaps between intergenerational perspectives with conversation in conjunction with the artistic themes and approaches that have transformed over time. Paola and Leandro are both interested in photography’s translation of time and place. Each are especially interested in the fantastic and surreal. I really enjoyed hearing each speak about pushing the boundaries of film in order to produce something new.
 I really enjoyed listening to Paola and Leandro speak because their talk’s complemented each other. Paola introduced ideas about modernism, surrealism and the other world. She made interesting points about the perspective of the camera. I never thought about changing the format of the film from oblique to horizontal. The turn of the camera would make appropriations beyond the context of the film and contribute to the counter visuality of the other world.
Paola’s speech was short but a theme she described was questioning the idea of a place in itself. She ended her speech with the description of Matthias Delgates’s Modern museum in Mexico. Tying in this structure with the experimental, mythical and other worldly space she described at first tied into Leandro’s ideas about time and history. It was very touching when Katz said he was proud of Paola after her speech.
Leandro Katz introduced his speech in terms of capturing the nature of time. The title of the presentation was “In Memory of My Camera.” I really liked his point of not being a hunter of images. He instead decided to become a gardener of images. He described his gardening as gathering specific kinds of images for the project at hand.
He described his process of photographing waterfalls as recording major and minor changes in his sequential images. He would set up his camera and take pictures of the same waterfall over and over. I thought the juxtaposition of his waterfall photos into a question mark shape was very clever. I also though his usage of a spy camera from a James Bond movie was very clever.
 He outlined different projects like his 365 Sunsets and his moon-writing alphabet. In the sunset project he photographed from the southeastern corner of his studio in sequences just like his waterfalls. In his moon project Katz created an alphabet connecting letters with various images of the moon at different times. His projects centered on nature images were followed by a more realistic approach to photography. I recall a haunting image of two children looking at corpses from the end of his speech. Each were trying to identify their parents. This shift in subject matter was unexpected but Katz explained that once he had seen the atrocities of violence he couldn’t turn back. He explained that he was recording time when reality smashed him in the face. Seeing a shift in subject matter in Katz’s work made him seem more versatile and it made me respect his work even more. 

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