Travels to Chile and Bolivia, from the Atacama Desert to the Salar of Uyuni, through landscapes animated by memory. A memory that Guillaume J. Plisson illuminates, questioning our relationship with time. Memory animates time and illuminates the heavens. Series of images made with my friend Dario Arce Asenjo, anthropologist Franco-Uruguayan, living in Montevideo.
In the privileged setting of the death and moon valleys, the shapes of the rocks tear a limpid and overpopulated sky of stars. Time as much as space is imprinted here in the illuminated seams of lightgraff.We drove this experience to a magical place reserved for a privileged few: the plateau of Chajnantor, where the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre Array) is located at 5,000 meters altitude. Here radio-telescopes scan the sky, searching for stellar bodies whose memory we can only perceive, and nevertheless propels us into the future. In Bolivia, the salar of Uyuni, covered with a thin layer of water in this season called invierno altiplanico, becomes the largest mirror in the world. Here time and space are mutually reflected in a mixture of optical illusions. At the heart of the Humberstone and Santa Laura saltpetre farms, which have been declared World Heritage by UNESCO, time has remained suspended in the middle of the 20th century. Gigantic buildings shelter the remains of infernal machinery made in England, and adjoin the now ghost villages, the final remnants of an industrial epic tale. The region’s exceptional aridity, considered the driest in the world, has allowed almost intact preservation, while these factories and dormitory towns are lost in the desert. Hence goes the glory of the world, and these places, same as the heavens’ immensity of the region of San Pedro de Atacama, which encourage to meditate on ephemerality.In Chacabuco, the memories of the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990) are brought to light. This saltpetre farm was used as a prison camp in 1974, and now a remembrance of the industrial past that amounts to the painful passage of more than 1200 men, victims of the fascist repression. In Calama, we went to meet Violeta and Ana, members of the Association of Families of Executed and Disappeared Political Prisoners. Their quest to find the remains of their husbands and relatives in the desert for 18 years, is reflected in that of astronomers who seek traces of calcium in celestial bodies. Hence memory reveals the inseparable continuity between space and time. Their fight for justice is a reminder that the past is not just about what has been, but what could have been. In the same way, the future does not only cover what will happen, but also what could happen. Photographs from film (6x17) or digital files, and printed on baryta paper, in different formats, with limited copies. Please contact me for more details.