A look into Daniel Chauche’s timeless portraits

Posted on March - 14 - 2017

Photo Courtesy: Daniel Chauche

When taking a walk through busy streets or into a new town, it’s impossible not to notice the people who make up the place. As perceptions become less impressionable, each person becomes part of a bigger idea of humanity, and their individuality seems to be lost in an endless sea of anonymous faces and the circumstances of a culture or society. In a motionless contemplation, an individual starts to appear; the context in which he or she is inserted defines the actions and personality until a certain degree, but what about if we don’t have any context? Shall we fill in the blank or just gaze into their eyes and wonder? It seems there is no right answer, which in art is often the ideal outcome.

Tiempo en Blanco is more than an appropriate title for a series that photographer Daniel Chauche has been working for almost 30 years. Chauche’s life has been a voyage into the heart of a conflicted and effervescent country, which has seen in the last decades its fair share of political and social turmoil. His lifelong work has not only managed to capture the tempestuous journey of Guatemala into the 21st century but has also accomplished to do so in striking and moving images. Although at a quick glance his photographs seem to echo photojournalist methodologies, his black and white compositions transcend a solely objective stance and bring to light a much deeper and personal significance.

Manuel Martín. Photo Courtesy: Daniel Chauche

The white background that Chauche uses is key to decontextualizing his subject. Serving as a white and untarnished canvas, people retain their personal and unique appearance, contrasting with the unrelatable backdrop, a non-place stripped of meaning and significance, allowing the spectator to fill in the empty space intuitively or naturally connect to the character who looks back, vulnerable and proud.

The series continues as time itself does, but in this case, time goes unnoticed, invisible to the naked eye, its subtle changes not yet palpable. The images in Tiempo en Blanco are an invaluable asset to Guatemala’s history and chronological development and have integrated into our collective social imagery. As he presents them again, it’s not a conclusion to the series, but it’s an opportunity for reevaluation and reflection.

By: Gabriela Martínez de la Hoz

La foto de hoy y la foto de hace 22 años. Photo Courtesy: Daniel Chauche