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In the eighties, Daniel Chauche began to take portraits of ordinary people from rural Guatemala: humble people, villagers dressed in their elegant regional dresses.
He took the photos in black and white, as if wanting to give them an anachronistic effect, of old things of yesteryear. He also put a cloth behind of the person portrayed. In doing so, it deliberately prevented the observer from establishing any relationship between the subject and its context.
Thus, by removing them from their daily environment, Daniel was able to give the villagers relevance, it can be said: the observer is fixed on the person and only in the person, who ceases to be part of the landscape and captures completely one’s attention.
Twenty-five years later, Daniel comes back in search of those people who he had photographed. He reencounters some of them; their faces now furrowed with wrinkles, their hair now thin and gray, with a trace of fatigue in their eyes.
He returns to re-photograph them, each posing with the original photo. The passing of time, which undeniably has left its traces, shows as well how in essence everything remains the same.
You do not even need the context. Daniel’s white background truncates any possible distraction. Just look at the expressions, from yesterday and today; to discover a structural condition that many consider normal because, it is often thought, “it has always been so.”
Seeing is believing.
Andrés Zepeda. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 13, 2016.
DANIEL CHAUCHE (1951)
Lives and works in Guatemala.
He studied at the University of Florida, where, in 1979, he got a Masters in Fine Arts in photography after which he taught at the University of Central Florida. He established his photo studio “The Personal Image” between 1980 and 1983. Even though he was born in the United States, he has lived most of his life in Guatemala.
He had first come to Guatemala in 1975, and at that time lived in San Juan Sacatepequez, where he came to understand and greatly appreciate the Mayan culture. He established his studio, now called Chez Daniel, in Antigua Guatemala, in 1983 and has lived there since that date. As a traveling photographer and later as a visual historian-artist, he has traveled the back roads and urban areas of Guatemala for almost 4 decades.
These decades working within these different communities in the country, weighs heavily in his ability accurately reflect the identity of the inhabitants.
At the same time, he has maintained a constant activity as a teacher of so many photographers of the current Guatemalan generation. Chauche has exhibited in the United States, Mexico and many galleries and important museums of Guatemala.
His work is in major collections: Museum of Art, Jacksonville, Florida; St-Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, Florida; Tulane University, Latin American Library, New Orleans; Photography Archive of CIRMA, Antigua Guatemala; Fundación de Arte Paiz, Guatemala; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Stanford University Green Library, Stanford, California; UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library Berkeley, California; Smith College Museum of Art, Smith College.
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