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10 Artists Whose Practice We Discovered in Portfolio Reviews in 2020

POSTED: 15 January 2021

Autograph’s Bindi Vora picks the projects and artists that made an impression on her.



During 2020, I had the pleasure and privilege of speaking with many artists across the world and hearing about the work they have been making. Despite all the challenges of the past year, a highlight for me was seeing work by photographers at five different portfolio review events – all held virtually, reaching a much broader constituency of artists than the traditional in-person reviews might have.

The conversations have been rich, the work diverse and the discussions challenging. Each of these moments forced me to consider why we as artists make work, what makes it important and - most enriching of all - what we hope audiences may take from our viewpoints and stories. Through these conversations I was struck by the number of projects that tackled important issues and narratives that have emerged as global concerns: climate change, migrant communities, exile, healthcare and witnessing violence. All of which resonate, and reflect, the impact of the global pandemic. These bodies of work shared a sensibility that made a profound impression, and I was captivated by the artist’s research, talent and future hopes for their works.

Below are just ten of the artists and their projects I wanted to bring your attention to. They are diverse in their subject matter, but all address issues that are pertinent to our life now. 

Bindi Vora is an artist and curator, and Curatorial Project Manager at Autograph.

1. Marilene Riberio, Dead Water (2015 - 18). Dead Water presents a journey of the detrimental effects of hydroelectricity, telling the stories of the people who have been affected by these ventures, devastating numerous communities across Brazil. Visit Riberio's website for more about the project.

2) Mateo Arciniegas, Olvido pa’ Recordar (ongoing). The quest to find home and a lost identity underpins Mateo Arciniegas’ ongoing work Olvido pa’ Recordar - translated as 'Forget to Remember'. Born and raised in Columbia, Arcinegas moved to Tennessee in 2010 as his mother believed it would provide a better life for the family. During this time, he continued to question his new surroundings, asking “can I ever feel like I really belong here?”. Follow the artist on Instagram.





3) Paloma Tendero. Using her body as site to investigate her genetic lineage, Tendero focuses on the delicate and often precarious nature in which her body is silently compromised. Through multiple iterations of work, Tendero’s performative, sculptural photographs reveal genetic imperfections, dragging them from “the inside into the revealing light of the external view”. Visit Tendero's website and view more of her art.





4) Rocio Eslava, El nombre de mi Madre es Niebla (My Mother’s name is Mist). Following her mother’s life-altering stroke in 2016, Eslava found herself back in her hometown, embedded in a remote landscape which ended up becoming a site for healing. Eslava expresses “I feel the need to re-know my mother in this new mother-daughter relationship that has been established”. View the series and watch a short film on her website.

5) Eleana Konstantellos André, Doble Olvido. André’s project, which she hopes to develop into a photobook, speaks to structure, roles and gender bias; beginning with a series of uncanny vernacular photographs of a family holiday in 1998 that were exposed unintentionally twice, causing a faint trace of people congregating around a swimming pool. The catalyst of events that followed transformed her family dynamics – her grandmother had an accident at that swimming pool on that particular holiday causing irreparable damage to her memory. André used this moment of dislocation to begin unpicking the depictions of her Grandmother’s role as a woman within the family structure. The Photographic Museum of Humanity has a great page about the project, and you can see more on the artist's website

6) Mitchell Moreno, Body Copy (2019-20). In a series of constructed self-portraits, Moreno responds to texts found on gay and queer hook-up sites. Acting as stylist, set decorator and photographer, Moreno explores how queer masculinities are performative, codified and unstable constructions, rooted in material and digital cultures. Artist's website.

7) Gisela Torres, Looking for Edmonia (Self-portrait)In this multifaceted body of work, Gisela Torres proposes an uncanny dialogue with the 19th century sculptress Mary Edmonia Lewis. Through a series of prints, film and ready-mades, she explores the life and work of Edmonia with whom she found many affinities: from her heritage, creative aspirations and her global journey across several continents. Torres wanted to channel the spirit of Edmonia by merging historical technologies and 3D printing to transcend space and time. The resulting works are mesmerising. See more of Torres' work on her Instagram.

8) Simona Ciocarlan, They Danced in a Different Way. Interested in the ancestral rituals, customs and folk textile techniques preserved and practiced by many communities across Romania underpins this long-term body of work by Simona Ciocarlan. For Ciocarlan, the objects that are produced are regarded as an interplay between invention, innovation and ancient heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, acting as symbols produced over centuries of cultural exchange. Artist's website

9) David Uzochukwu, Mare Monstrom / Drown In My Magic (ongoing). In an ongoing series of works that questions the fragility and strength of the body, Uzochukwu’s surreal, fantastical images are captivating. He contorts, distorts and morphs the body situating it in a landscape which is seen as a refuge, a cocoon, the most vulnerable and also the strongest of bodies. Each composition questions ideas of masculinity, driven by the pursuit of resilience and placelessness. See the portfolio on his website

10) Mar Saez, Gabriel (2012-16). This extended visual portrait focuses on the transition of Gabriel over a number of years, capturing a physical transition of his body and also the landscape in which he surrounds himself in. By bringing together aspects of Gabriel’s journal, visual images and family photographs in one space, this evocative portrait bears witness to a body that is resilient and a journey of change. Saez has the project on her website, and at Futures Photography.

ABOUT THE PORTFOLIO REVIEWS

The reviews all took place virtually for a variety of programmes and festivals, by invitation from the below organisations. To read more about their individual projects and programmes follow the links below:

Photo España (Spain) PhE Masters programme

Grain Photography (UK) Portfolio Development Day

Futures Photography (Europe) Creative Europe programme of the European Union

University of Westminster (UK) MA Photography Art

Photoworks (UK) For Propositions for Alternative Narratives

Are you an artist and thinking of doing a portfolio review? We recommend NoWahala Magazine’s guide on how to prepare for a portfolio review.

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Banner image: Paloma Tendero, On MutabilitySequence [detail], 2020. © and courtesy the artist.

Portrait of Bindi Vora: Photograph by Laura Hensser for iheartwomen.co.uk

Images in slideshow: 1) Portrait of Maria das Graças and Delcilene. © Maria das Graças da Silva, Delcilene Gomes da Silva and Marilene Ribeiro 2016. 2) Portrait of João Evangelista (last shot). © João Evangelista do Espírito Santo and Marilene Ribeiro 2015. 3) Drowned Island. © Marilene Ribeiro 2016. 4) Portrait of Camila. © Camila Grzeca and Marilene Ribeiro 2016. 5) Portrait of Élio. © Élio Alves and Marilene Ribeiro 2016.

Images on page: 6-8) Mateo Arciniegas, from Olvido pa’ Recordar, ongoing. © and courtesy the artist. 9) Paloma Tendero, Veins, 2013. © and courtesy the artist. © and courtesy the artist. 10) Paloma Tendero, On Mutability, Sequence, 2020. © and courtesy the artist. 11) Paloma Tendero, On Mutability, 2020. © and courtesy the artist 12) Paloma Tendero. Flawed Beauty series 2016. © and courtesy the artist. 13) Paloma Tendero, On Mutability, B&W series, 2020. © and courtesy the artist. 14) Gisela Torres, REVERIE and SLUMBER, Film Still, 2020.