Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid presents the first major retrospective on Paz Errázuriz (born Santiago, Chile, 1944), one of the most internationally-recognised Chilean photographers. The self-taught photographer started her work in the 1970s, with projects that often involved risky transgressions of the rules imposed by the military regime of that period, daring to work in environments where women were not well received.
Her images present spaces and environments in which exclusion and isolation prevail, and her figures adopt behaviours that are unconventional and break the status quo. The exhibit brings together more than 170 works (photographs and videos) and documents that retrospectively cover the different sections of her work, chronologically and thematically ordered.
The many and varied themes of the exhibition include “Agents and spaces of social change”, which reveals the risks of being a female photographer under the Pinochet dictatorship. Errázuriz fixed her gaze on those individuals sleeping on the street and subjected to poverty: showing a perspective of the country that is far from heroic (Los dormidos series). Errázuriz also examined the way of life of the affluent classes, who displayed their fortune in the districts of Las Condes and La Dehesa in Santiago.
The “Imprisonment” section further considers life under the dictatorship and expands its focus to all forms of confinement. She regularly visited a psychiatric hospital two hundred kilometers from Santiago, where she met people who were neglected by their families and in the process created two groups of photographs, El infarto del alma (The Heart Attack of the Soul) (1992-1994) and Antesala de un desnudo (Entrance Hall of a Naked Person) (1999). She also revealed the human bonds of love and affection which still managed to emerge in the context of an institution.
The thematic selection “The ages of life (and death)” meanwhile includes works from across Errázuriz’s career, the oldest from the early 1980s. The common thread is the treatment of time. The extremes of childhood and old age are particular areas of interest, including a series where she photographed her son Tomás every month for four years in the mid-eighties. Conscious of the cult of youth and the beauty of our era, she hallenged taboos around ageing with the uninhibited nudity of elderly people in her Cuerpos series.
Paz Errázuriz; Fundación MAPFRE, Calle Bárbara de Braganza 13, Madrid; until 28 February;. For more information, visit www.exposiciones.fundacionmapfre.org
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1. Paz Errázuriz. Courtesy of Fundación MAPFRE.