Last Friday the graduates of the Certificate Program at the Photo Center NW lectured about their work. There I met Elisa Huerta-Enochian and experienced a strange Déjà vu. As she spoke about her work I realized how much my current reality and picture-making process echoes hers. Elisa spoke of finding herself in a dark emotional place and responding to a very intense, innate need to make a self portrait. I too, like Elisa, turned to self portraiture when things got rough. I find that there are certain feelings that only one's self can express; no matter where you point your lens, it isn't until you turn it self-ward that you start to feel like that darkness is leaving your body and traveling towards an image, settling itself into a sheet of film and materializing into a picture.
I like Elisa's work very much and I think it really reflects the emotional state she described. I also like the progression of the work as she moved from interior spaces to exterior spaces. Seeing her crouched or laying on the ground in public spaces -the contrast between her clothed, domestic person against the very stark exteriors- made it feel to me like a still life. The purpose of a still life is to document a grouping of inanimate objects that stand still in time, as life carries on.. a still moment in time, in life. In Elisa's pictures in my opinion she represents the still object, the entity that struggles with living, with catching up to a fast-running, optimistic, ever-in-motion entity: life (public spaces, nature, etc).
Her body feels foreign in the compositions, adding to that strangeness, making her vulnerable. As the backdrops change, it is interesting to see that her vulnerability remains regardless of whether she is in her own home, in an park or laying on an deserted off-ramp. It is that continued vulnerability that validates these image, that turn her into a still in life.
Elisa says of her work:
Interior Landscape looks at the self and the discovery of problematic states that are universally human. These self-portraits reveal her feelings and her process of self-examination leading to a greater acceptance of one’s own humanity.