From images of dancing Aborigines in Australia to personal family portrayals, Lorena Guillén Vaschetti’s photography evokes memories and emotion. In 2012, her first monograph was published — a series of old family pictures that she rephotographed after her mother had attempted to abandon them. In historia, memoria y silencios (Shilt Publishing), Vaschetti explores compelling personal history and family photography — both what is revealed and what remains hidden. Photo District News and PHotoEspaña deemed it one of the best books of the year. (Reviewed in Photographer’s Forum Vol. 34, No. 3, Summer 2012 / May.) Her work has been shown in galleries and museums in many countries throughout the world, and is part of public and private collections.
Born in Rosario, Argentina in 1974, Vaschetti grew up in Buenos Aires, where she still resides. She began shooting pictures when she was seven or eight years old. “I took black-andwhite lab classes when I was 12,” she recalls, “so I’ve really been doing photography all my life.” Before becoming serious about the discipline, she studied architecture and anthropology, earning degrees from the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 2000. Vaschetti says that anthropology enabled her to learn about certain groups and cultures, and that architecture taught her how to best design homes for them. “It was important for me to understand architecture from an anthropological point of view. For me, the two studies were very much integrated.”In 2001, she taught courses in architectural history and habitat theory at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. “After a while, I realized that I didn’t want to work as an architect and took up photography instead,” she says. That same year she moved to New York, where she studied at the International Center of Photography and the New School. She also attended photography workshops in Italy, Argentina and the U.S. Then she returned to Argentina and set about exploring different photographic specialties, such as travel and commercial. “I tried a great many things until I realized that I wanted to do fine art photography,” she sums up. She began to show her work in group exhibitions and held her first solo show at Verve Fine Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2004.
When Vaschetti photographed people prior to her book project, she preferred details rather than full views. “Small details tell me a lot about the rest of the person,” she comments. “They may not be classical portraits, but sometimes details describe the whole in a metaphorical way that I find very interesting.” This was how she portrayed Australian Aborigines in a series of images entitled Painted Rituals. While the images reveal motion, the identities of her subjects remain anonymous. “I wanted to show the Aborigines in relation to the land. So when I photographed them, I would just photograph parts of them — in particular, their feet.”
More of this article can be read in the Summer 2013 issue.