Intertextuality. Tales and Configurations as Ideas Emancipation

by Pietro Daprano 

The critical discourse of Leslie Gabaldón is reflected in a personal project derived from her interest in documenting a powerful, intense segment of reality, the female sensibility.

In Intertextuality. Tales and Configurations as Ideas Emancipation, it seems that the artist is unable to escape herself or at least flee from her resentments, fears and oppositional stances. These feelings end up stimulating an intense interest in changing the reality of a furious world, loaded with oppression and influences that arise from male domination.

To look yourself in the face, strip down to essentials or just meditate on the ambiguous mechanisms of social representation is no easy thing. The subject has already been saturated with adulation, and many layers of varnish have been slathered over the image of the woman.

In the photographic series Swallow, made up of four interrelated sets of photographs, Leslie Gabaldón reveals narrative codes linked to the dramatic imposition of stereotypes of beauty. In this work, she creates portraits of beautiful young women eagerly devouring roses in different stages of decomposition. The principle of abstaining from any real nourishment and the varying stages of the rose’s deterioration create a painful metaphor about clichés and formal aesthetic imbalances as well as violence and degradation.

The energy in these portraits has nothing to do with the collective imagination; nor is it a discourse on some nutritional regimen. In fact, what the portraits show is the opposite: the act of chewing, salivating and spitting out rose petals is proposed as a critical perspective. The idea is to represent true tales based on concepts of rupture and deprivation of the formal value of equality in the woman. The series is a meditation that shows the body and the flesh in all its ambivalence; it incorporates the peril of degradation. In the end, the images are both sordid and sublime.

In the course of many work sessions with the artist in her studio, she showed a determination to enter into the experience of photography books in order to mark appendices and sections that were important to her explorations. In each of these books, we find a value of purity, sacrifice and nostalgia. In this regard, there is a desk set up in this exhibition where the visitors have access to the content of the books. These are editions that show iconographic images in photographs presented as if they were drawings or collages with certain references and functions, forms and ways of creating and representing what is female. They have a subtle solemnity and aspirations to change their modes of representation.

Throughout the photographic series that makes up Intertextuality, Tales and Configurations as Ideas Emancipation, we observe several iconographic elements that recur. We find the recurring elements in the scenes of Split, which features the arms and legs of a woman undone, no longer able to live with human unpredictability. These images leave us breathless, in a sublime series that addresses beauty and the ephemeral. Split goes to the heart of feminism; it ends up confirming the magnitude of silence by way of comparison, however invisible that silence may be.

Leslie Gabaldón undertakes nomadic peregrinations in pursuit of the flow of life; her visual approaches tackle ideas such as the exile of words. She adopts the red color of roses as a metaphor for the fluidity of blood rather than a space packaged in horror as a way of inducing pleasure.

To the artist, the female sensibility is a subversive field in which experiences may be gathered from photography and the ups and downs of relationships. These swings include dialogues between love and hatred, which appear simultaneously in deep yet unstable feelings. What underlies these images is hope and the metaphor of what is possible, an ambiguous exaltation of a profound nostalgia: loss and ecstasy, horror and pleasure. It is upon this foundation that Gabaldón constructs her poetic identity.

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