Photo paintings, those images where costumes and backgrounds were painted over enlarged portraits, peppered my early childhood’s every day scenery. As I grew older, they slowly disappeared as precious objects of the working class, until I re-discovered them in a flea-market in 2000, where their subtle mysteries of lost ancestors and make-believe situations infatuated me with their purposeful yet fragile composites.
This popular technique from the Argentina of the mid XX century was a distinguished homage done by people of limited means to their deceased. Sometimes they were created as mementos of landmark celebrations such as First Communions and weddings. And other times they were hung on the walls to remember the relatives left behind in the Old Country.
Since my first re-encounter with these fascinating possessions framed behind bombé glasses, I have collected several dozens of them, traced them back to their owners, unveiled through interviews the hidden stories behind each portrait, to finally photograph them again in new, but at times, unexpected, settings. “Photo Paintings” is an essay where I seek to re-signify these images, often forgotten in drawers and attics, which captured the tenuous boundary between memory and desire.