Eleonora Ronconi: Finding Home
We are a country of immigrants. Unlike any other place in the world, we bring our memories, our cultures, our hopes and dreams to American soil. But in order to survive, immigrants need to recreate themselves, diminish what was once familiar, and begin to create new identities. Argentinian-born photographer Eleonora Ronconi is our Guest Editor this week. She will be featuring photographers that make work about a shift of identity, the idea of feeling uprooted, and finding a home away from their place of birth.
Today we feature Eleonora’s project, Serás Mis Ojos, that examines her search for rootedness by examining what she left behind.
Eleonora was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1969. Growing up in Buenos Aires, she tried to balance her interest in the arts and sciences. She attended medical school for four years, but had a change of heart and pursued her love of languages, which lead to a career in Conference Interpreting. In 1998, she settled in California, and she now lives and works in the Bay Area.
Eleonora is passionate about Art History and Photography and has continued her studies by taking workshops with Mary Ellen Mark, Sam Abel, Cig Harvey and Ed Kashi among others. Eleonora’s work has been exhibited in the US and around the world, and her first solo show was in her native Buenos Aires in 2009.
Eleonora’s work has been published by the Maine Department of Labor and in Aesthetica Magazine, Chroma Magazine, Fraction Magazine, Lenscratch and Le Journal de la Photographie among others.
Serás mis ojos
I have lived in California since 1998, but Buenos Aires remains my home – it anchors and feeds my soul. There, I will always be rooted.
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that we are three-dimensional beings, constantly living in the context of place. Everything we experience, everything we recall is intractably embedded in a specific node of time and place. In my quest to adapt to living in the United States – in a context that is not mine, I began to lose my connection to myself, my identity and my grounding.
On one of my trips to Buenos Aires in 2011 with my camera as my companion, I decided to revisit the place I knew so well and start at the beginning. I photographed things that have been a very important part of my life – family photographs, my friends, my first communion dress, my aunt’s house, and places I visited with my father who passed away when I was a teenager. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces started coming together, re-creating my history and journey, reconstructing a life that had begun to feel no longer in sharp focus.
Just as I began this reconstruction of time and place, my aunt was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. When I told her about my project, she told me how much she enjoyed photography when she was young, and she gave me a full box of photographic slides she had created over 50 years ago when she was a rural teacher. With tears in her eyes, she said “I am so happy you decided to photograph your home and collect your memories because in a twist of fate, I am losing mine… so go out there, see for me, remember for me, you will be me eyes”.
I am her eyes now, but also mine. This project has allowed me to rediscover the universal quest of self, remembering where I came from and what roots me to time and place. It is a profound journey that I take with our eyes, but also with my heart and soul.
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