Weaving images, a tribute to the photographer Fernando Bengoechea
Fernando Bengoechea (1965-2004) was one of those people who were suddenly sucked into the raging waves of the terrible tsunami in South Asia. Originally from Argentina, he emigrated with his family to Brazil at the age of 13 before moving to São Paulo and then to New York to study image. These multiple uprootings exposed him to new cultures – a significant aspect of his life that he has continued to explore in his photographic practice. Not content to present his images in the traditional way, the photographer cut his images into a multitude of paper strips which he then wove together to create woven photographs. Since his death, his brother, Marcelo Bengoechea, has continued to distribute his work and to inscribe the photographer’s work in time.
With a borrowed family camera (which he returned 20 years later), he moved to São Paulo to study photography and cinematography. He continued his studies in New York at several schools (International Center of Photography, School of Visual Arts, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York University). He began his career as an assistant to photographer Oberto Gili, who introduced him to the industry, photographing interiors and architecture. Gradually, Fernando’s photographic style was noticed and more and more publications (Town & Country, Elle Décor, Vanity Fair, House & Garden, House Beautiful, Harper’s Bazaar, Flair, Elle, In Style, Vogue, French Vogue, German Vogue, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and New York Magazine) collaborated with him. He has travelled the world, learned five languages and acquired an encyclopaedic knowledge of the world. It was during these travels that he honed another aspect of his career – fine art photography, of which the ‘woven’ Karma Trees series is the most important. He has been exhibited in Paris, Milan, Venice, Sao Paulo, New York, Miami, Chicago, among other cities.
What were his favourite themes?
Architecture and interior design mainly. As far as art is concerned, he wanted to show real life, the different cultures that inhabit the world and their visions of life. He first travelled to remote areas to experience these cultures himself. Putting these cultures into images was only a second step in his reflection.
Why did Fernando Bengoechea turn to image weaving? What does this say about his relationship to the image?
The woven photographs evoke ancient cultures insofar as weaving was very present there. By juxtaposing the strips of his photographs together, Fernando sought to add a ‘layer’ of personality to the image itself, ultimately reflecting the complexity of life itself. With its ups and downs, he brings emotions to the surface. Each woven photograph is as unique as our lives are, we are all the same but different. Cut and woven differently. The constant nuances of our moods, personalities and values are mimicked by the pattern of each woven photograph.
Can you explain what fascinated Fernando Bengoechea about the Roman busts he photographed? Do you know the reason why he set out to capture these ancient statues?
Fernando was fascinated by ancient cultures. The peaceful beauty of these Roman busts brought tranquility to his semi-chaotic life of endless travel and business meetings that the publishing world demanded.
What are you trying to achieve by distributing Fernando’s work?
I am working for Fernando’s artistic legacy, as if it were a collaboration between brothers, one in heaven and the other on earth. I hope to spread a celebration of life with it. His short existence is an inspiration to live life to the full with enthusiasm and emotion, letting it take you where you want to go. The photographs, each cut and woven differently, just like us, remind us of the fragility and complex beauty we all experience in our daily lives. Don’t take life for granted. Weave yourself a wonderful life…