The term identity hides a double meaning. What is identical is the same, a set of common features that links individuals or the community; but, indeed, those traits are at the same time what distinguishes one from the Other. In the Post Era -postmodernity, post-human, post-photographic, post-truth and a long etcetera-, any known concept is broken down into fragments, usually intangible, which we nevertheless need to join in order to count and provide substance to contemporaneity. The individualistic reality (con)fuses us in the willingness to explain and solve the different, inserting it into a normative chain and, finally, changing the diffe- rent into the same.
Berena Álvarez’s camera sneaks into the current New York, a sym- bol of modernity, finding multiple landscapes where everything seems to fit even though the pieces do not mind too much. How many times have we visited that city without even being there! Most of us have dreamed through images of the metropolis that never sleeps. Álvarez, trying to move away from the look that has been contaminated by the New York iconsphere, shoots to what is odd, to what is identifying, in a photographic drive that corro- borates the desire to know and decipher. But, New York, as the protagonist of the work of the artist, turns out to be like all the others. It has miseries, every day nature, thus, common gestures to all the metropolis.
The result of these snapshots, as it happens with any image, is a biased answer, unable to complete the narrative. For that reason, among the human tumult, in an attempt to alleviate the unfulfilled desire for apprehension, she picks up, as if she were a gleaner, material remains of an artificial ecosystem in the form of traces of events. They are sensitive objects that, in turn and paradoxically, she transforms again into images through the scanner in that desire to rescue a bit of truth. With this act, making ours André Bazin’s words, she seems to want to tell us that “every image must be felt as an object and every object as an image”.
Once at home, watching the photographic puzzle of traces of the environment and its characters, she finally understands that we are in the Otherness. That the order of the gathered moments is insignificant for the story, if we compare them to the persistent idea of a utopian and segmented multiculturalism. Giving sense to the images through a continuum becomes a banal enterprise, it lacks interest. Thus, she decides to show the images as a cartography in a large double-sided mural: on one side, a map of the city of New York, and on the other one, the optical vestiges that make it up. The hierarchy of history is lost in malleable patches; who and where is dissolved in an amalgam of confused identities.
Berena Álvarez’s deconstructed visual discourse is reinforced, in addition, with a technical blend. In order to reaffirm the sense of diversity, or perhaps to reinforce the idea of detritus, she uses different cameras with different films that, consequently, produce images of diverse texture. Likewise, she maintains the analogical system to highlight once more the idea of image-footprint, in a sort of ontological sense of the photographic.
In short, the rhizomatic composition of Scrapped meets the need of imbricating issues related to identity – a topic, on the other hand, that has become the discursive axis of the author in some of her latest works; the premise of the cultural construction of images in an ultra-photographed city, filled up with myth-images; with the subjective and experiential view of the photographer finally turned into a mobile and changing installation.
It has been said tirelessly that the photographic medium is born due to the desire of capturing reality and gets extended to be able to represent it, which is nothing more than an intensification of the sense of presentation2. Memories are exhibited encapsulated, mixed, with a random disposition looking for a provoked adultery, challenging us to play as spectators with the pieces of the work so that we could recompose an open New York, free of borders. In that sense, the show (re)presents the image as a global language in an attempt to overcome the personalized traits that oppress and condition the human being.