Claudia Cortinez

There is a photograph of me age five sitting in my fathers study. The chair is a dusty grey velvet and the light is coming in at such an angle that the camera can’t help but focus on the particles floating in front of me, my face a fuzzy background. I am holding a conch shell the size of my head, my ear swallowed in the fiction of an ocean. There are over a dozen versions of this photo from my childhood, taken by my father with what I believe was the hope that I would become a writer. He was sharing with me the Odes of Pablo Neruda and how to appreciate simplicity, beauty in the ordinary. I’ve always assumed these photos exist because “Caracol” was my favorite ode but I now see them as his example of how poetry focuses sensation. Listening to that shell I was instantly aware of my body; I would recall those few lines and find myself inside an inexplicable ocean landscape. It was different every time.

My work comes out of a longing to understand these formative experiences through my adult self. I didn’t become a writer but I reflect on language visually; it is my way of articulating, through perception, a continuously evolving narrative. I allow the stories that have narrated my life to transpose my way of seeing and making; I know something is working when its presence alone communicates a place that feels beyond a fixed time. There is a fragile interior to the outer world that I’ve found in my search to reclaim memories from my fathers deteriorating cognitive state. Both a way to understand and an exploration of my origins, I find myself seeking to re-contextualize the intimacies in his writing. 

I interpret the world through the inexactitudes of time, absence, and memory. Images catalyze at the moment of pause, where the trace of one’s body is exposed by the physicality of looking. I want people to slow down and be left with a sense of duration, suspended in their inner world. The lens of the eye, the camera, and the body unfold as lead protagonists, offering their set of intimate notations.