Ángeles Peña was raised in Patagonia amid snowy forests, savage rivers and deep lakes. This aspect of her life influenced profoundly her photographic work, centered in cultivating a deep respect for nature and an inexhaustible admiration for natural landscapes.
Photography has always been present in the life of the artist, thanks to the influence and contribution of her father, who ventured in this artistic discipline and gifted her first camera for Christmas ’93. During her childhood and adolescence she had access to all kinds of analogic cameras, to experiment freely portraying her surroundings, her friends and her experiences.
This interest grew stronger, and at the age of 18 she returned to her native Buenos Aires city to begin university, first plunging into the image world through Graphic Design, and later devoting fully to pursuing her passion for photography at the Andy Goldstein Creative Photography School, as well as in Fotodesign advertising school, with the Italian Aldo Bressi. She worked on alternative techniques and processes at the St. Martin’s School of Design in London and complemented her training through different courses, workshops and clinics carried out with renowned artists and mentors like Diego Ortiz Mugica, Alberto Goldenstein, Fabiana Barreda, Diana Aisenberg and Mariana Maggio. She was the assistant of photographer Francisco Bedeschi. These influences shaped a professional artistic path, accompanied by the development of photography as discursive object, more than being a mere esthetic resource.
Her artistic roots find analogies with some aspects of the pictorial tendency of German Romanticism. She deepened her fascination for landscape and its symbology through personal experiences in connection to nature and her love for mountain life. Her works evidence a stinging curiosity to explore the artistic aspect intrinsic in each element which conform landscape, providing the same prominence to a little piece of melting ice than a mountain in its whole extension. “Through an act of peregrination and union with my surroundings, I submerge myself in a process of contemplation. In a world that spins faster and faster, I feel the need of focusing in the detail and beauty of what still remains”.
The intimacy of the relationships that knit between photography as a documentary resource and landscape in its poetic extension is what drives her to inquire and create. The artist seeks to transmit a growing concern for the effects of climate change and the consequences that it brings to the environment, with images that deploy a strong discursive power.
She selects water out of the four elements as protagonist, since it’s there where she finds more evidence and traces of these vertiginous changes. “I don’t photograph a landscape, but all of what happens in it. The path, the road taken in its interior. I try to speak from within the landscape, not from a distance.” Coexisting with the surroundings as an active spectator results in achieving a privileged place for investigation.
The Series “Mountain Waters” traces a route through the Patagonian Andes mountain range, from north to south, showing one of the biggest sweet water reservoirs on earth. The photographs presented in the exhibition “Mountain Waters” are part of Ángeles Peña’s first artist book, currently in production process.
The work was born from a concern facing the decrease in snow precipitations in winters, as well as the raise of global temperatures, resulting in massive glaciers’ retreats. “I strive to transmit an emotion. Entering that “landscape” and speaking from its guts. I try to disappear leaving photography to act for itself and letting the earth speak to us”
Part of the series “Mountain Waters” has been exhibited the past weekend in the SHH Mountain Fim Festival, held in Ushuaia from August 23rd to 27th. This festival reunites annually important audiovisual exponents from the mountain film industry, nationally as well as internationally, with the objective of broadcasting their productions in different categories and competition formats. The program also included the presentation of the artist’s editorial Project, Ediciones de la montaña, produced in conjunction with her partner and friend Julieta Zancada, Patagonian referent of gourmet pastry.
This initiative has two photography and cooking volumes edited, “Frutos del Bosque” and “Frutos de la Patagonia”, works that relate symbiotically the Patagonian visual surroundings with recipes based on regional products.
Undoubtedly the work of Ángeles Peña is a door to approach nature’s contemplation from a committed and aesthetically pleasing perspective, to learn what lies beneath the surface of the image, in the intimacy of the apparent.
More info: www.angeles-pena.com
Thanks to Micaela Taborda fo the investigation carried out to complete this article