In the photography series Mi Espejo, Bolivia Reflejada, Venezuelan artist Maria Fernanda Lairet created images that convey what she calls “a surrealist vision of the Bolivian Altiplano, its amazing geological formations, geothermal slopes, and salty lagoons.” Set in the largest salt bed in the world, the photographs were born of an adventure the artist took with a group of eleven art enthusiasts invited to explore the Salar de Uni. Lairet’s description of the place speaks to the artist’s inspiration: “The perfect blend of salt, the reflexes, the horizon, and the sky that look like a single surface. They break the thin imaginary line that separates us from the landscape. As an act of magic, gravity disappears, the being becomes light. Then you perceive that you were created to transcend, that you were conceived to extend the wings of your inner world, and in this way, elevate yourself.”
Lairet creates tension in her photography with figurative compositions that express disciplined formal interest. The dynamic curving red lines and peaceful horizontal and vertical lines evoke a sense of energy and rest. The artist’s signature contrast of primary and secondary colors activates the figures that exist within the flat planes of pale hues. The approach surpassed a typical photo shoot; it was holistic in that the act of taking the photographs in that profound setting became a practice of performance art. She recalls, “The magic that was generated at that time, in the middle of nowhere, was very special.” They document what was a feeling shared and present the filtered perspective of the artist’s eye.
One of the most striking elements is the incorporation of cloth and ponchos purchased in Bolivia at an Oruro market. The fabric clings to various figures, even stretching to cleave two distant people. It defines the figures from their background, and the use of red has specific connotations for the artist: “It symbolizes action, vitality, power, ambition, and an optimistic attitude towards life.” Taken metaphorically by any viewer, the expressive textiles can be seen as relating to the interconnectedness between people, their complicated relationships, the whimsy of life, and the awkward and beautiful aspects of existence. The series taken as a whole, the visually striking images she presents compel curiosity, consideration, and instantaneous feeling.