At 13 years old Margarita Dittborn was given a camera and hasn't stopped taking pictures since. She swears she's always wanted to be a photographer and this drive can be seen in her numerous international exhibits and last year’s Círculo de Críticos de Chile (Chile Critics Circle) award for her exhibition Enfermas de Amor.
This year she has four exhibitions on her schedule, with the current series, Golden Still Life, showing at Galería Animal through January 31.
In her universe, food plays a central part: still life banquets, rabbits chasing carrots, delicious golden fruit emerging from the darkness. With detail-oriented and eager-to-please work habits, it’s easy to see how Margarita naturally identifies with a chef. She combines this persona with her skills as a modern photographer, capturing not only single moments with her camera, but also composing photomontages that bring everything together.
Malena Higashi, Revista Revolver: You are having quite a busy year with exhibitions in Chile, Peru and Mexico. Can you tell me a bit about them?
Margarita Dittborn: The assistant curator from the Mexico exhibition is Chilean artist María Inés Adaros. It´s a collective Chilean photography exhibition that will be held at the Universidad de Guajanato in February. In Peru I´ll be together with Chilean artists Pablo Ferrer. In May there is another exhibition in Chile together with artist Rosario Carmona, this´ll be in Sala SAM.
The exhibition is called Lengua al plato, and the subject is anxiety and voracity. The last one will be an individual one about the cultural representation that Europeans built regarding America during the Spanish conquest. This will be in October at Galería Animal.
RR: Regarding your current collective exhibition, is there anything that bonds the artists taking part in Escena Alterada?
MD: Yes, the link between them is the distortion, both formally and in terms of concept.
? RR: There is a very personal view in your work and the places where your stories take place. What inspires you to come up with these universes?
MD: Everything depends on what is going on in my head at that moment.
RR: What is the starting point in thinking about your compositions?
MD: Painting and its history, trying to redefine it and establish a dialogue with it from the photography field. My influences come from all the Baroque artists, specially Velázquez.
RR: Do you think it´s possible to make a living from art?
MD: I´m doing it right now; the thing is, this is just temporary. So yes, it is possible, but you can´t go out for dinner every month!
RR: What is your vision of the art market in Chile today?
MD: It´s complex...With the crisis we've all gotten screwed, but fortunately the public is investing in young art, because it´s not as expensive an investment and it´s worth it in the long term. This kind of art doesn´t sell out like hot bread, but if you move and make yourself known, then you get to sell.
RR: Who are the local young artists with more presence?
MD: There are a lot of them, I might run out of space, but Felipe Cusicanqui, Cecilia Avendaño, Antonia Cruz, Joaquín Cociña, Ignacio Wong, Rosario Carmona, Camila Pino Gay, Valeria Faúndez, Paula Anguita, Pablo Serra, Adolfo Castro (Bimer), Papas Fritas, Elias Santis, Tomás Fernández, Mariana Najmanovich, Daniela Kovacich, Nicolás Labadía... and many more.
RR: Your work goes from playful rabbits and dogs living everyday situations, to baroque images of solitary women in Enfermas de Amor, and now you are exhibiting still lifes with no people at all. How did you turn from this childhood joyful world to a darker, Baroque one?
MD: As I was learning more about the history of painting, I began working with something as fundamental as lighting--which is very important both in painting and in photography. Then I got interested in painting and that was a link to baroque. The poetic elements in each photo vary according to my own mood.
RR : Is there anything particularly attractive about still lifes?
MD: The temporality.
RR: What kind of pictures did you take in the beginning of your career?
MD: Before digital photography I used to take pictures of toys, setting out the scenes. Before that I´d take black-and-white pictures, horrible ones. Not because they were black and white--they were really bad pictures, with a documentary photography style.
RR: Do you identify a moment in your career when your work improved or started to be recognized?
MD: I think my work started to have a bit more head while keeping the same heart. It´s not about making something because it´s pretty--there has to be a search in there. Like every emerging artist there is nothing completely resolved and nothing completely absurd. And I´m still a photographer, because I keep taking pictures.
January 8 to January 31, 2009
Galería Animal, Sala Cero
Av. Alonso Córdova 3105 (between Bicentenario and Aurelio Gonzalez)
Phone: (562) 371 9090
Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 8:30 pm, Saturday 10:30 am to 2 pm