Sculpture, Dance, Performance—
A Photographer’s Personal Journey
By Tatiana Rivero Sanz
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]atiana Rivero Sanz is a photographer who creates her own indoor props for her photos and incorporates sculpture and performance. Prior to this process, she primarily photographed out in nature, until she had a bad fall on one of her excursions:
I had just moved to this house in the mountains, and one day, I was lost in the beauty of autumn, taking photos, when I don’t know what happened and I found myself tumbling into a hole, landing hard on rocks and on my back.
Later, I would be lying on my bed, still in pain, eyes on the ceiling, when I realized I couldn’t go on with my project of taking photos of nature on that mountain. I simply wouldn’t make it with all those heights.
But that fall into that hole proved finally to be much like the fall of Alice in Alice in Wonderland down the rabbit’s hole – I was about to embark on a similar fantastical journey; turning inwards, I would take photos to document my own fantastical landscapes, memories, and nightmares. But also quite literally, I would turn from taking photos outside to inside, and in my bedroom.
Lying on my bed, I realized my bedroom was big enough to be a studio. I could bring the beach to the studio, bits of the forest–I could still photograph nature. The storage men came the following week, to take my bedroom furniture away. I painted the walls with burning colors of orange and red.
Photo shoots become performance
But these photo shoots also became about performance, as I began to incorporate dance. For example, I would put on a tutu or my blue clothes and take as many pictures as possible, allowing for the unexpected as well. Why did I dance? It just happened. The thing is, when I close my eyes, the self I see is a dancer. Some images come from very deep, have nothing to do with my daily life. I wanted to know more about that dancer, about me. But also to explore questions like what is it that photography should do? What are inner worlds like? Can you photograph something that you only see from the inside?
Respecting what I saw, I allowed the photos to guide me. The last step in this new way of taking photos, was to sit in front of the computer and let the photos tell me the real thread of the story. There were always surprises.
By clearing out my bedroom as a studio, I now also had the space to create the two sculptures I had been dreaming about: Symmetry and Storm. And the seeds were sewn for my next project, a photography book and a story book:
Sculptures of two inner landscapes
The polarity of the two sculptures I could see in everything, as well as in everything I felt. All of a sudden I would need to be next to Symmetry, to be inside, safe. Yet, later I would ache to feel Storm’s wind and lie down under it, enjoying its cleansing fury.
At the beginning, beach, had been the inspiration for Symmetry, and forest, for Storm. But there came a point when I couldn’t enjoy either; they had too much in common. I could see my two inner landscapes, the beach and the forest equally in both of them.Inside Symmetry I found a restlessness. A frozen ongoing repetition, a forced quietude. Order suddenly didn’t look so attractive anymore.
And Storm breathed with the same symmetry I found walking through the forest. There were tumbled trees and torn branches around, but overall there was an elegance. The forest couldn’t possibly be just stormy, it was harmonious.
And then the storm
Or maybe not—one morning I heard a deafening loud noise in my studio. Startled, I went up the stairs and stood speechless at the door: a big tree branch had fallen and broken one of the skylights. The sculptures were covered with glass. Snow and wind were pouring in. An ocean of broken glass, snow, and water now glistened quietly. What distressed me most was the beauty of it, how the glass seemed to actually belong there. I stood there staring at my two inner landscapes mixing, flooding everything.
I’ve just finished the book. My studio is empty now. Symmetry and Storm are gone. Funny enough, they are outside the house near the hole I had fallen into and that had started all this adventure.
Now, with the studio empty I’m dreaming again. I see two new sculptures: Water and Void. And the search continues, I know inside-worlds will surface in abrupt ways. I know the search will take me to new unforeseen places.