Milagros De La Torre (Peru)
MILAGROS DE LA TORRE engages in approaches to the ID portrait of typical format and universal use and acceptance by both the State and individuals. The portrait is seen as the official facial identity in a person’s passport and drivers license, and as a memento mori for family, friends as well as oneself to safe keep the memory of a face. In her series Under the Black Sun, she appropriates rural Peruvian tradition and the technique of the ID portrait, which normally includes an instantaneous ‘racial improvement’ of the sitter. European colonialism still remains in people’s perception that white skin is a clear symbol of beauty, superiority and class. The portrait photographer ‘whitens’ the facial color of the portrayed, by retouching the skin of the person in the negative film with the red liquid substance of mercurochrome. De la Torre explains that this is such a common technique that it’s apparently done without request by the sitter. In her own small format work, she stops this process midway. She presents the viewer with an image printed in its negative state and with the portrayed’s faces flaming red. She has directly questioned her society’s perception of people and racial identity by photographic intervention. Under the Black Sun also offers the universal observation of portrait photography, which in addition to being a collaboration between the portrayer and the portrayed, brings forth the contemplation between the image that the individual portrayed has of him/herself, and the image the viewer makes of him/her upon encountering the portrait.