If we look at this in the conservative sense, it has to do with how you arrive at form, how you take a problem and materialize it. Any reading of a work radiates from the form. All artistic production has theory behind it. What changes is how that theory is made legible.
That’s where the specificity of technique comes in—if it’s language or painting or video or sound. But the essential problem remains the same. It’s a search for form, for a way to materialize our questions, conflicts, quests, and discoveries.
For some reason, I’ve always wanted to transfer images from one surface to another. And yes, I’ve often used multiple images of the same event, or used the same image over and over. I’ve also made images with handmade paper. Once I recycled newspapers and made them into sheets of paper that still had little vestiges of headlines and news stories.
And when I started with heliography, there too it began from necessity. I love chemical processes, they fascinate, they delight me. I don’t know if it’s the transformation that gets me thinking, or if I’m always thinking about transformation. Whatever. I found these papers, the kind used for making architectural plans. These papers are photosensitive: the light attacks, passes through, the image is revealed. Well, I loved the idea. All you need is the sun. It’s like photographing without a lens.
But there were chemical limitations. So once I got the papers, I called the factory to see if I could buy the product they’d used to treat the paper. They’d hang up on me like I was some sort of crackpot. Until finally one day, I reached a young woman who said, “Look, I have to tell you I have no idea what you’re talking about, but there’s a chemist here, I’ll pass you to him!” So I got passed to this very lovely, elderly gentleman who said, “Well, fine, why don’t you come by?”
Now I live in Rosario, and this factory was in Temperley, just outside Buenos Aires, almost four hours by bus! Early the next morning, I was at the bus stop. I had these huge sheets of paper—two by three meters—on which I’d begun to work. The chemist couldn’t believe it. The products only have a life of about six hours, he told me, by the time you get home, they won’t work very well. But I insisted and finally he gave me the chemicals like someone offering alms.
I have to tell you, I could feel my blood start to flow in a different direction. I just knew it would work. Within a month, I went back to show him what I’d done, and the factory gave me money to do a publication showing the use of their materials in the making of art.
-Graciela Sacco, interview with Marguerite Feitlowitz, BOMB magazine 2001