The fog that erases us

In his book entitled LA NIEBLA (the fog), edited by Ediciones La Vista, the Chilean Photographer Mauricio Valenzuela presents an allegorical examination of the 80s in his home country.  Recognised for his creativity, he was a member of the AFI (Association of Independent Photographers), the organization which was established to bring  together talented and prolific photographers in the midst of the Pinochet Dictatorship. 

Mauricio Valenzuela can be regarded alongside his contemporaries as a rare bird with an extraordinarily original and incisive vision. His images escape the kind of visual representations more commonly associated with the period, as in the scenes of repression, displays of societal pain, and instead takes a perspective which verges on the metaphysical, where one gets a profound sense of that which is not seen.

In this book, the author recovers his own unique interpretation of this historic period.  To do so he abandons a more epic perspective in favour of a series of images that makes use of a climatic phenomenon, characteristic of the Chilean capital, as a metaphor for that time. The fog pervades all, shrouds all, and erases all.

The main character in this tale is the city of Santiago, the political centre of the country. The city appears to us in a blurry haze, while the people appear lost, downcast, and floating in the midst of the greyness which seeps everywhere, threatening their precarious existence.  It is a viewpoint which also recalls our own heritage: the Prats Cinema, downtown streets, the urban landscape or the River Mapocho before flowing into nothingness, like a fatal premonition which hangs over its wandering inhabitants.  

The book includes images printed in duotone on glossy paper, and retains the same size and format as its predecessors in the collection (EL RÍO by Mauricio Quezada and  LAS NOVIAS DE ANTONIO by Zaida González). The series of monochrome images are preceded by an emphatic quote by the master photographer Sergio Larrain ("may all that is past be already forgotten") and is accompanied by a brilliant prologue from the Chilean writer Antonio de La Fuente. The book is nicely bound to give it the look and feel of an object of design, and both flaps of the book jacket can be opened to reveal two "photos without camera", a brilliant creation of the author himself to visualize through words that which cannot be photographed.

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