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Photography (MA)

Alexandra Diez de Rivera

Alexandra Diez de Rivera is a Spanish-Argentine visual artist based in London working with photography. Her work explores themes of memory, mortality and identity through analogue and digital techniques and experimental processes.

Diez de Rivera’s work has been included in publications such as Vanity Fair, FT Magazine, Shanghai Daily, and Le Point and exhibited in galleries both nationally and internationally. She is represented in private and public collections in Europe, China, the US and UAE. Diez de Rivera was selected for the Travers Smith CSR Art Programme 2021/ 2022, The Pupil Sphere Showcase 2021, and was a winner of the UAL Chinese Association Open Call and finalist of the 2020 Critical Mass Competition. She was invited to join the ‘Fair Art Fair’ community in June 2021. Diez de Rivera has a Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins and a Master’s degree in Photography from the Royal College of Art.

Recent exhibitions include, ‘Final Not Over’ at Unit 1 Gallery and ‘Can We Dance Again?’ at the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building. Upcoming events include a display of selected 2021 graduates at the Dyson Gallery, the RCA degree show at Cromwell Place, Chelsea Art Week and an exhibition at Travers Smith headquarters in London.

My practice looks at the vacant space, the empty shell, the skin of things and is informed by my cultural heritage and research around the subject of aura in art. I explore themes of memory, mortality, and identity through emotionally charged and psychologically ambiguous objects and spaces that are imbued with history.

Through the use of photograms, large format film and digital photography, I evoke and explore corporeal presence. My subjects have an intimate, physical relationship to the body and have been handled and inhabited; they are inanimate but loaded, exposing the affecting remnants of past lives. The images of the children’s clothes are made without a camera, placing the antique garments directly on photographic paper and exposing them to light, the skin cells and body oils of their wearers seeping into the prints.

I use photography as a means, not only for remembrance, but as a method for preservation and restoration. The camera becomes an instrument for resurrecting archaic and obsolete objects, turning them into something new, allowing us to observe them and re-evaluate their cultural, religious, political, and sentimental meaning.

'The Whispering Gallery' and its dormant containers of rifles and pistols, crosses and medals, evoke hidden narratives and secret histories, the sense of absence and omission tapping into our deeper fears and desires. The objects and spaces photographed come from my own family home; like Nabokov in his autobiography, ‘Speak, Memory’, I use the family home as a space to excavate and animate the ghosts and auras of the past.

Vessel VI, 2021 — C-type print, 62 x 20cm (life-size print)
Vessel I, 2020 + Vessel II, 2020 — C-type prints, Vessel I: 10 x 15cm (life-size print), Vessel II: 19 x 13cm (life-size print)
Vessel III, 2020 — C-type print, 42 x 23cm (life-size print)
Vessel IX (2020) — Archival pigment print, 53 x 53cm (life-size print)

Dress, 2020 — Archival pigment print, 103 x 125cm (life-size print)
Cuff, 2021 — Archival pigment print, 50 x 50cm (life-size print)
Ruffle, 2021 — Archival pigment print, 50 x 58cm (life-size print)
Frock, 2020 — Archival pigment print, 70 x 78cm (life-size print)
Stalls, 2020 — Archival pigment print, 102 x 130cm
Shelves, 2021 + Skull, 2021 — Shelves. Archival pigment print, 102 x 130cm Skull. Archival pigment print, 60 x 60cm
Hair, 2020 — Archival pigment print. 29.5 x 40cm (life-size print)
Lightscape II, 2020 (left image) — Archival pigment print, 27 x 36cm + 27 x 36cm (diptych)
Lightscape II, 2020 (right image) — Archival pigment print, 27 x 36cm + 27 x 36cm (diptych)
Dress, 2020 - 107 x 129cm (framed)
Vessel I, 2020 - 10 x 15cm (framed)
Vessel III, 2020 - 42 x 23cm (framed)

The framing of the Vessels form an integral part of the artwork. The pictures are printed life-size and mounted under Perspex. The Perspex plate is then floated on the surface of a deep tray frame, replicating the shape and size of the original container.

The finished pieces look like the boxes again, transformed, holding something of the past and something futuristic. The process preserves a haunting imprint of an object which is both a physical embodiment of, and a liberation from, the memories it once held.