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MEMENTO VITAE – MEMENTO MORI SERIES
Daniel Hernández-Salazar challenges everyone who thinks that beauty in arts can only be explained within the so-called aesthetic conventions, and urges us to also explore beauty in the fields of truth revelation, historical clarification and social justice.
The works fm this series are not an exception of such a call. Their history goes far beyond the darkroom, as they collect thirty years of practice of documental and artistic photography. Conceived in photojournalism and transfigured by a deep reflection, these works represent Hernández-Salazar’s humanist and internal response to the horror of war crimes. Each and every one, masterly created in the traditional photographic art and craft, has become an emotive testimony.
As said by scholar Steven Hoelscher, Daniel’s artworks defy the common criticism of aesthetic or art-like photography of atrocity, making clear their own constructedness by putting together multiple images and connecting the testimony with the symbolism. His famous angels—now universal, certainly are the best example. While using the iconographic representation of a messenger (the angel), its bone-made wings—the scapulae from an actual victim from one of many massacres in Guatemala, provide the evidence of a troubled past.
Poignant but candid, Daniel’s creativity embraces the commitment to make art creation a factor for social change. As a photographer, an artist, a documenter, a humanist or all of those, he feels obligated to share with us his vision of the past to enlighten a better future. He feels compelled to open our eyes up to the truth.
Extract from a text by Oscar Iván Maldonado.
DANIEL HERNÁNDEZ SALAZAR (1956)
Lives and works in Guatemala.
Photographer. Knight of the Ordre Des Artes et des Lettres. Minister of Culture from France.
Daniel Hernández-Salazar initiated his passion on photography during his studies in Architecture. During the 1980’s Guatemalan civil war, he worked as photojournalist for international agencies such as Agence France Presse-AFP, Reuters and the Associated Press-AP. Hernández-Salazar presently works as an Independent Photographer, focusing his interest on the human body, architecture and historical memory—the last becoming his main topic of work and activism. Although he masters digital equipments and techniques, Daniel remains loyal to the practice of analogue photography and darkroom, which he has never abandoned.
His work has been presented in more than 30 solo exhibitions and more than 40 group shows in North, Central and South America, Europe, Japan and Korea. For his artistic work in service of Human Rights he received in 1998 the Jonathan Mann Humanitas Award from the International Association of Physicians in Aids Care, and was named Knight of the Ordre Des Artes et des Lettres by the French Government in 2005. Part of his oeuvre has been published in two personal anthologies by Kage Shobo, (Tokio, 2006) and University of Texas Press (Austin, 2007), and has been featured in a number of art, academic and news publications, including the New York Times LENS Blog, Harpers, 6Mois, among others.
Since November 2012, his work is included in the permanent collection of the Kazerne Dossin Holocaust and Human Rights Museum in Mechelen, Belgium. He was curator and designer of his photo exhibition Genocide Dismissed, Guatemala a Silenced Tragedy presented at that Museum from Sept. 2014 until March 2015.
Since June 2015 Hernández_Salazar works on his photo project Guatemala se re(v)bela (Guatemala reveals/Revolts) which was presented in a big exhibition at Guatemala’s Aliance Francaise with great success.