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· Album (1997)

During a stay in Brazil, a friend told me the story of a family, more specifically a couple and their son, who were his neighbours for years in a block of flats in a central neighbourhood of Sao Paulo during the 1970s.

My friend and his neighbour were both the same age, fourteen, when, due to a combination of reasons, it was discovered that, from his birth to that moment, this child had been systematically tortured physically and mentally by his parents. However, to the outside world, the family had always presented a truly convincing image of happiness.

The parents were diagnosed as suffering from a serious mental illness. Gradually, more and more shady facts were uncovered. They were addicted to S&M sexual practices that over time became increasingly harsh, going as far as to include in their acts other devotees of these practices who were offered their own child to have fun with. Always taking great care that the resulting marks were limited to the core of the body, they avoided areas such as the head and the arms, which are usually uncovered and would have exposed the truth.

Deeply impressed by that child's story, I decided to make a reproduction of my photo album from birth to the day of my first communion in which I appeared beaten or frightened in all the photographs. I took his place, turning my childhood figure and that of my parents and brother into blissful and ignorant actors. Thus I created an album that, for an unsuspecting spectator, is a contradiction in terms. In it we see two parents being photographed with their child, who shows unmistakable signs of abuse. While the parents of that boy carefully ensured that no one knew what was really going on in that house when the three of them were alone, here I show it brutally in a totally upfront simulation.

The viewers are faced with the dilemma of whether what they are seeing is authentic or has been tampered with, since they are not warned about it in any way. Now, even if in this case we are dealing with a trick, there are places where this is actually happening, and very often it is happening much closer than we would think — perhaps next door, perhaps the viewer himself has been abused or he himself is an abuser. The aim of this work is for the viewers to take home an annoying and disturbing memory and to analyse the feelings that this album has aroused in them.


Enrique Marty.