How we made this work in Portugal “Incarnate / Encarnado” – posted in Boulder, CO March 1, 2019

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Santa Susana 1 (this image will be showing in Delirium), Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

Month of Photography has started here in Colorado and I will be premiering several works from the ongoing performative photographic series titled “Incarnate / Encarnado” in the exhibit “Delirium” at RedLine in Denver. I have been working on this specific series with Portuguese photographer Luís Branco since 2017. I first started working with Luís in 2015 on performative photographic works while I was a resident at the Obras Art Residency in Evoramonte, Portugal. Originally, I was inspired by the remarkable Portuguese conceptual artist Helena Almeida to use myself as the subject in performative photographs. Luís and I had an immediate rapport in our work together. We produced many performative photographs together in 2015 and more works in 2016 when I returned to Portugal. We had a large exhibit in early 2017 of our collaborative works in a beautiful palace/museum in Estremoz titled “Meeting Her Again / Reencontrando-a.” We have since shown much of this work at Michael Warren Contemporary and at various other venues in Colorado.

In the fall of 2017 we started a new body of performative photographic works that were all sited in nature – we have since titled this series “Incarnate / Encarnado”. We did extensive photo-shoots in several different sites – all in the beautiful Alentejo region of Portugal. I am the “subject” in every image. Our original intent with this project was to do work “about water” and about the connection of the (older) feminine body and spirit to water and to nature. I think this is the unusual aspect of this work, you don’t usually see an older woman “performing” in this type of conceptual photography. We shot in the Rio Sever in the village of Portagem near Marvão. We shot in a beautiful lake in the northern Alentejo. We shot in the magical Pego do Sino or Canyon of the Bells that is close to the Obras Art Residency in Evoramonte. We shot in the dry reservoir (dry because of overwhelming drought that year) near the small village of Santa Susana.

Our work process is quite “fluid.” We speak of the process as a process of “mirroring” each other or “echoing” each other. We choose a specific site and then we both respond to that site. I bring different fabrics and objects that we use– the mirror, a chair, a frame. Luís shoots 100’s and 1000’s of images at each site. We edit and look at the work together and separately to choose the significant images. When I returned home to Colorado and showed my dear friend Sama Alshaibi (an amazing artist and professor of photography at University of Arizona) some of these images – she invited me to Arizona to produce and print in their lab. I came back from Tucson with these 14 beautiful large 32 x 48 inch prints on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag.

So back to creating the images – when I started thinking about this project in the fall of 2017, I had a dream or a vision (I can’t remember which) about this oval shaped mirror in front of me in a river, reflecting the river into my body. Sure enough when I arrived in Portugal at the Obras Art Residency I went to the little antique shop in Evoramonte and found the oval shaped mirror from my dream. We used this mirror in several photo-shoots. Here is a selection of the works/series we have titled “Incarnate / Encarnado.” We will continue working on this series this spring in Portugal and we hope to exhibit the whole series in Évora in 2020 (in another beautiful palace).

The following five images were all shot in the Rio Sever in the small town of Portagem near the Roman Bridge. This is a beautiful place in the Northern Alentejo near Marvão. I imagine you can tell from the images, the Alentejo region of Portugal is stunning and varied territory.

 

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Mirror in the River, Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

 

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Head Rock in the River, Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

 

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Rio Sever 1, (this image will be showing in Delirium), Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

 

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Rio Sever 2, (this image will be showing in Delirium), Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

 

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Rio Sever 3, Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

The following image was shot in a reservoir in northern Alentejo called the Barragem da Apardura.

 

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Lady in the Lake, Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

The following three images were all shot in the beautiful, magical Pego do Sino / Canyon of the Bells near the Obras Art Residency close to Evoramonte Portugal. We had done a whole series at the top of this canyon on the granite rocks in 2016. This time we entered the canyon itself, I think very few humans enter this remote place. There is a tale about the deusa or goddess of this canyon, she is a fierce protectorate. Perhaps she found us during this photo-shoot?

 

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Red Canyon / Canyon Encarnado 1, Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

 

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Red Canyon / Canyon Encarnado 2 (this image will be showing in Delirium), Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

 

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Red Canyon / Canyon Encarnado 3, Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

The following three images and the image at the top of the blog post were all shot near the village of Santa Susana in the southeast of the Alentejo. Since we had been shooting in these more luscious environments we wanted to make some images about the lack of water / the drought that was affecting southern Portugal and much of the southern Mediterranean that year. The reservoir was almost totally dry, you can see the dying fish at the waters edge, and the bridge that you see in the pictures is normally covered by water as well. I think these images prescribe something intimate and fragile – a real and existential loss… of water, of youth

 

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Santa Susana Mirror and Bridge, Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

 

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Santa Susana Mirror, Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco, archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

 

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Santa Susana 2 (this image will be showing in Delirium), Sherry Wiggins and Luís Filipe Branco archival digital print, 32 x 48, 2017.

I am excited to be premiering several of these works from  “Incarnate / Encarnado” in the exhibit “Delirium” curated by Mark Sink at the RedLine Community Art Center in Denver. The exhibit opens March 9th and runs through April 7th. I am also excited to be returning to the Portugal in April to do more work with Luís Branco on this project.

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