Bendana | Pinel Art Contemporain is pleased to present Lake Verea’s (Francisca Rivero-Lake Cortina, & Carla Verea Hernández) first solo exhibition “Argent” at the gallery.
Argent is Lake Verea’s most personal work to date, requiring the most physical involvement of any project they have produced. The intimacy experienced in the dark room where the images are staged and painstakingly made is mirrored in the darkroom where the labor takes visible form. These are the first images Lake Verea have made with a mammoth format, brass aperture-less lens, ground glass camera from the 19th century which they found at an antique store in Mexico City in 2007.
To restore, refit, and bring the non-operable apparatus back to life, Lake Verea studied carefully another camera, their beloved Linhof Master Technica 4x5. Inspired by Linhof’s mechanical precision and lens sharpness, the duo fabricated the missing parts and adapted the Linhof’s 240mm lens into the antique body. Collecting, restoring, and using cameras from all time periods helps them understand the mechanics, aesthetics, and optical evolutions of the machines since the beginning of photography. For years Lake Verea dreamt about using the largest and most compelling camera in their collection, and the collective pause of 2020 and 2021 made it possible.
To wake up the truly gigantic camera, Lake Verea needed time and space. They needed a dark room and subject matter worthy of this event: silver! The duo choses items dating from the 18th century to the present--mostly made with Mexican silver--for the relationship they have with each object, some of which they own, and some of which they borrowed. Their aim is to unveil the stories and messages they guard. Some objects are new, others have been intertwined in both of Lake Verea’s family histories since long before they were born, constituting what they would phrase “memories from the future”.
The mammoth camera inhales the image though the lens in a duration of time ranging from one to four minutes. The image travels upside-down and in reverse though light waves that impact the silver gelatin photosensitive paper. In the darkroom, Lake Verea let the image be exhaled, and it appears on the photosensitive paper once they submerge it in the developing baths. Later, the image is fixed and the paper is washed, dried and flattened. A silver heirloom, viewed and focused through the apparatus on ground glass, emerges as a composition on silver gelatin fiber based paper.
The final work is a unique negative on paper - black is white, light is dark, and no two can be alike. It is the imprint of light and image, with nothing in between. The final image has no grain, absent and far from the notion of DPIs, blurs out the context to the surrounding space and forgets the dimension of the subject. Lake Verea coax the reflective nature out of each object, grasping for details that demand close-ups. Silver recognizes itself.
Silver with Silver, Time with Time.
Mexico City, October 2021