Lena Szankay is an Argentinian artist with a focus in photography. She studied photography at Lette Verein in Berlin, Germany where she experienced the turmoil that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Local identity, universal experiences and a narrative quality inform her work. An interest in the shaping potential of space and architecture, and their effects on human habitation is present throughout her works—specifically, how architecture manages to influence human life in unforeseeable ways. Although, her work is documentary in nature, there is always the presence of an underlying emotional dimension.
One, two. Pair, duet. Opposites, complementary. Binary. Choral. Diptych. This last was the sense which the photographic canon decided upon to name the sequence of two images united by a hinge of meaning.
“Mimesis”, the series of Lena Szankay’s diptychs, is included in this gender, but she revisits it, giving it new life. This sequence of diptychs evokes an ancestral, mythical force, which denotes division and separation: mimesis, as difference and indifference at the same time.
It is because the pairs of images set up by Szankay, join together at the very point where something of the one reappears in the other, being identical as far as wish is concerned, but different in their representation. Thus, the very name of the exhibition refers us to the classic definition of René Girard: “a mechanism of unitary generation which produces multiple and differing dynamic forms”. A plurality that belongs to every human conflict, the images in Lena Szankay’s diptychs are eloquent in reporting every human subject, from the slightest to the deepest, rooted in something previous, in something which produces mimesis.
The first thing these diptychs exhibit is the relation between humanity and space. Subjects and geographic places in pairs, as a symbol indicating that human experience always lies at anchor, placed and maybe even enclosed in the intimacy of domestic space (…) The construction of the device is intended to preserve the mystery of the living in the inter-connections, contiguity and continuity of both photos. What the photographs join in an external way, our look relates internally., turns it into thought and meaning. For the same reason these photographs proudly accept being considered as simple images, for it is there that their remarkable strength takes root. The technical quality and aesthetic knowledge of the authoress does not disguise the power of the language that penetrates them.
When I say language, I don’t necessarily mean words, since in this work, an eloquent handling of light has substituted for the clearness of concepts. What can be said before her own parents’ dead bodies? Those photographs constrain to the utmost Szankay’s bet, not intended to produce effect: the real is penetrated and transformed by the image, the image itself re-signified by an elided word: that is where the power of these photographs becomes sensible.
The whole series deals with the life-death pair, in the way only art can do it, and that is what makes that the photographs of “Mimesis” be not shadows, parodies, or less real couples, but re-doubled presences.