I. The space, a grayish and aseptic white, embraces each of the members, where each certainly coexists in a different way with the material and symbolic heritage that means being part of a big family, where everyone lives as they can with their deeds.
They are over thirty, dressed in elegant clothing and wearing lavish objects, both antique and modern. The scene could represent an instant in the biography of a traditional family, one of the many families whose history is related to the birth of the Nation. Elements of the past and the present: lace and velvet clothes inherited from ancestors and some other attire following the decalogues of the current fashion, antique candelabra and an espresso machine keep company to three generations linked by family relationships.
II. The family portrait gathering three or even four generations is a definite typology in the history of photography. This record acts as a trophy showing that, in spite of the political, economic and social vicissitudes, a family, not necessarily wealthy, can stand over time. These pictures have enabled and enable the construction of the mythical narrative in the history of a family.
The family portrait boom happened in the first half of the 20th Century. With more or less dust on the cover, most old family albums bear witness to the presence of frayed color or black and white portraits that have been taken in studios or in front of the sea by one of the many professionals touring the Atlantic Coast. The family portrait and its conventions, from its origin with painting, will help to strengthen, according to the times and the social status, a certain image of the family as bastion of the social organization.
The scene presented today by photographer Ana Zorraquín is traversed not only with the coexistence of the past and the present, the glory and the decline, the opulence and its burdens, but also the placement (in groups of women, men or both) and the positions (front view, back turned to the viewer, two thirds view, sitting or standing) refer to the coexistence of a traditional conception of family with another one where, in harmony with the present, family ties do not follow the 19th Century paradigm, a model that the classical family portrait helped to fix so strongly in our collective imaginary.
III. In the composition of this sophisticated human architecture, in a space where time seems to be between parentheses, one of the most suggestive topics derives from the collection of stares. All are focused on different vanishing points, as if they were avoiding the hell or the suffocation of what the inner workings of a family can be, with their love but also with their dramas and secrets. Definitely we are facing a portrait that evades the family model of the sitcom to get close to the dramatic idiosyncrasy of the clans of the classic novels. Is that so?
Ana Zorraquín performs a feat not only for the role this piece will play in the history of the family group, but also for having managed to get so many people together, not for a big party, but to create a masterpiece. A piece that through the theatricality of the scene and the artificiality in the creation of each of the details immerses the viewer in the well-known and fascinating strangeness of the family relations.
The search for the feeling of strangeness is well known by the artist, who before producing the work that I am reviewing, for a long time has been taking beautiful pictures using the cyanotype technique. The use of this old technology and the images photographed have the force to produce in the viewer an effect of temporal confusion, of beautiful strangeness.
IV. Factum portraits each member of the family while capturing all of them as if they were a single body. But the identity is not in play in the image, that identity that the portrait photographer by convention tries to capture. Neither the family, who would be the content of the work, is the subject matter. I believe that the artist, through the recording of her closest world, tries to capture the time, the past, present and future simultaneously. She tries to capture that atavistic desire to be a part of time.