Gertrude de Moses | Imaginar a través del cuerpo (Imagine through the body)

“The mind is the battlefield of photography.”

Latoya Ruby Frazier.

A decisive act of liberation that makes the photographer a sniper with the ability to pierce the soul. Something that Gertrudis Conitzer or Gertrudis de Moses (1900 – 1997) achieved with her classic Leica, acquired in her native Germany in 1937, after fleeing Nazism and settling in Chile, becoming one of the founders of the Foto Cine Club of Chile (FCCCH, by its Spanish acronym), and a renowned photographer.

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From the Estación Mapocho Cultural Center (CCEM, by its Spanish acronym), it surprises us with Gertrudis de Moses El cuerpo imaginado (The imagined body). 1964-1977, a series of 14 images in black and white, in which he unfolds part of his representational field, placing the accent on the female figure to which she adds a dichotomous sense by translating both his most nostalgic facet, as well as that where she shows her closeness to the unconscious, abstraction, surrealism or the rightly experimental, giving the double exposure or overlap of negatives and images, a preferential role when composing. Task described in her autobiographical Caminata: memorias de una fotógrafa (Walk: memoirs of a photographer) (Editorial Universitaria, 1989): “I went to the lab to put together two films of a sculpture and another of a woman without a body. This combination for me represented the sadness”.

Without falling into an excessive lyricism, de Moses creates an atmosphere of enigmatic subtleties that the spectator discovers through this dreaming of chiaroscuro, creating an interconnection that breaks with dualism, from the moment she explores not only new languages, but opens the saddlebag of her soul, fusing it with that of her leitmotiv (woman and simile), giving the work, in addition to its aesthetic value, a substantial degree of resilience, using fears and constant tragedies as meaning and the body as an indispensable signifier.  Transmigration also emphasized by curators Andrea Aguad Ch. and Samuel Salgado T.: “Gertrudis de Moses approached the genre as a social construction, interpreting and representing a will to deepen her emotions, to achieve a clearer awareness of the world of the senses. The body as a battlefield, but also as a territory of power.”

An approach where The cuerpo imaginado (Imagined Body) does not require explanations, but rather allows itself to be carried away by the disintegration of form, and by the re-imagining of a frame that operates in favor of the dreamlike, making what looks like a monologue dissipate, wrapping us in a halo of endless metaphors exemplified from that Window in the night or that Fantasy with cubes, or even more so by those bodies emerging from the darkness, as if trying to flee from an imaginary underworld. A common place that in parallel escapes from the artist’s unconscious like a new “Hell”, besieged not by fire, but by the embracing power of water and rocks, and a woman trapped at this crossroads, which can also be understood as a secret aspiration to free herself from oppressive machism. An allegorical bet that is also taken up by this young woman who tries to escape her “nightmare” or terrible shadow that looms over her. The one that undoubtedly personifies the fears of this artist and part of her fateful experience, expressed in these symbolic escapes.

A dizzying escape that is also complemented by hard work as a housewife and sneaking into “Mignon”, her precious studio: “I had a habit of working on the camera obscura very early in the morning, so that no one would bother me.” Necessity that even so, produced a melancholic delirium, making the double exhibition a complement that, together with giving freshness and agility, exceeded time (1964-1977); as a potential fantasy that also emphasizes the idea that the photographer’s work does not set its limits in the shot, but in extracting the hidden soul. That other face that looks sideways and makes shadows its ally, or that silhouette that is barely insinuated, but that replicates like a sweet refrain, that the visitor hums visually, in an exhibition that suggests looking and looking, in a double and reflective exhibition of ourselves before life. An obligatory question that this photographer already asked herself when, after the death of her first son and her husband, she turned her attention to what she called a “combination of negatives”, making photomontage a powerful resource with which she decisively expanded her field of action. What would soon bring him international recognition, obtaining the bronze medal of the Kodak Mundial (1964) and the Ansel Adams distinction of the Chilean-North American Institute of Culture (1992), and even the Photo Cinema Club of Chile, in a fair and deserved tribute, established an award that bears his name.

In short, although in Gertrudis de Moses there is a clear passage from the senses to the body, there is also a clear concern for the craft, a spirit of constant search and an almost innate degree of relevance. Something that is demonstrated in addition to this exhibition conceived as a tribute and in the totality of her work, but mainly in the vision of an artist for many unknown or forgotten, but above all an avant-garde photographer who knew how to emancipate herself from the negative by imagining from the body.



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