Lucía Vázquez

From the series, Elsita ©Lucía Vázquez

October’s featured photographer is Lucía Vázquez

Lucía Vázquez (b. 1993) is a photojournalist from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She received a bachelor’s degree in Journalistic Communication at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in 2015. Between 2013 and 2017, she studied photography at Motivarte Photography School in Buenos Aires and then at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York. In June 2020, she graduated from the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism program at the International Center of Photography, where she was awarded The Wall Street Journal Scholarship for Visual Journalism. Her documentary work was recently published in the book “2020 Edited” by Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin, Germany, and exhibited at the shows ‘How The Light Comes In’ and ‘Global Images for Global Crisis’ at ICP.  She is part of The Eddie Adams Workshop, class of 2021, and a contributor for The Wall Street Journal and Getty Images. She is currently in Buenos Aires, where she works as an international freelance photographer.

Memories of Elsita

‘What time those that won’t return: Memories of Elsita,’ is a long-term project that explores the triggering connection between memory and photography through the resilient life story of my 91-year-old grandmother; Elsita, as we dearly call her, using her archive images, old letters, quotes, and photos.

Born and raised in Buenos Aires, granddaughter of Italian immigrants, the only survivor of four siblings and a widow of my grandfather Alberto, with whom she was married for 53 years, Elsita suffers from dementia. As her Alzheimer advances, she can’t hold any new information or experiences, and her long-term memory is conditioned by the luck of the day. But there’s one thing that she always yearns with nostalgia, tenderness and joy when looking at her old prints: ‘Qué tiempos aquellos que no volverán’ (What time those that won’t return), in allusion to the 1926 tango: “Tiempos Viejos” (Old Times.)

As a mind exercise, I have been showing her old photo albums for four years now: except some dim days of no reminiscence, the images flawlessly work as memory triggers. However, when I started doing this photo series, she could tell me details of the night she met my grandfather at a ball and anecdotes of her early years at her childhood home. Now those memories have become treasured stories that only live in this project.

By obsessively revising her archive, photographing her routines, and documenting her reactions when looking at her old photos, I continue to work in recreating the timeline of her life, connecting places, celebrations, people, and journeys, to keep her memory, personality, and time as vivid as possible.

In 2020, Elsita survived COVID-19 in her nursing home, where she recently started living after 10 years together at home. Since her recovery, she was hospitalised three times, probably triggered by the aftermath of COVID. Against all dark prognosis, she survived. Those were the only times I could take her hand since the pandemic started. Like many other elderlies in care homes, she has now been confined for a year and a half, and I’m only able to see her through the street window, video phone calls and, most recently, a few indoor meetings separated by meters of distance, surgical clothes, and a glass barrier. No touching, no hugging.

Her strength, endless love, kindness, and optimistic energy despite everything continues to amaze me every day.

From the series, Elsita ©Lucía Vázquez
From the series, Elsita ©Lucía Vázquez
From the series, Elsita ©Lucía Vázquez

“My twin sister Olga worked in a bijouterie store and every time I went to visit her, she gave me something: a necklace, a ring, a pair of earrings. We got along so well. We did everything together; we were very close. Life strikes hard. The only one left of my siblings is me. That’s life, some leave before others later. But you must go through those moments. It wasn’t easy, if it wasn’t for my family, I wouldn’t be alive.”

From the series, Elsita ©Lucía Vázquez
From the series, Elsita ©Lucía Vázquez

“In the photo on the left I’m with my brother Jorge, my mom María, my brother Horacio and my twin sister Olga. The dress that I was wearing that day was made of natural silk. I made it myself. What a beautiful memory. And here on the right we were with my husband Alberto and our only daughter, Stella Maris. I think that is Mar del Plata. We always liked going to Mar del Plata. Such a beautiful memory. So many years have gone by.”

“The first kiss didn’t happen right away but two or three months later. I was very punctilious. In the hallway of my house was our first kiss. We were all over each other. But I never slept with him before getting married. It was different back then; it wasn’t common to sleep with someone before marriage and for me it was forbidden. We didn’t tell each other I love you immediately either, because I liked everything step by step. We used to make out in the hallway and stuff.”

From the series, Elsita ©Lucía Vázquez
From the series, Elsita ©Lucía Vázquez

To see more of Lucía’s works, here

La fotógrafa del mes de octubre es Lucía Vázquez

Lucía Vázquez (n. 1993) es una fotoperiodista argentina actualmente radicada en Buenos Aires. Obtuvo su Licenciatura en Comunicación Periodística en la Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina en 2015. Entre 2013 y 2017, estudió fotografía en la Escuela Motivarte en Buenos Aires y en el International Center of Photography (ICP) en Nueva York. En junio de 2020, se graduó del programa Práctica Documental y Periodismo Visual en el International Center of Photography, donde recibió la beca The Wall Street Journal for Visual Journalism. Su trabajo documental fue publicado recientemente en el libro “2020 Edited” por Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie en Berlín, Alemania, y exhibido en las muestras “How The Light Comes In” y “Global Images for Global Crisis” en ICP. Lucía es parte de The Eddie Adams Workshop, clase del 2021, y colaboradora de The Wall Street Journal y Getty Images. Actualmente reside en Buenos Aires, donde trabaja como fotógrafa freelance.

Las Memorias de Elsita

“Qué tiempos aquellos que no volverán: Recuerdos de Elsita”, es un proyecto documental que explora la conexión desencadenante entre la fotografía y la memoria a través de la historia de vida de mi abuela Elsita, de 91 años, usando imágenes de archivo, cartas antiguas, texto y fotos.

Nacida en Buenos Aires, nieta de inmigrantes italianos, única sobreviviente de cuatro hermanos y viuda de mi abuelo Alberto, con quien estuvo casada durante 53 años, Elsita padece demencia senil. A medida que la enfermedad avanza, no puede retener ninguna información o experiencia nueva, y su memoria a largo plazo está condicionada por la suerte del día. Pero hay una cosa que siempre anhela con nostalgia, ternura y alegría al mirar las fotografías de su juventud: “Qué tiempos aquellos que no volverán”, en alusión al tango de 1926 “Viejos Tiempos”.

Como ejercicio mental, le he estado mostrando las imágenes de su archivo durante cuatro años: excepto algunos días sombríos sin reminiscencia alguna, las fotos funcionan como disparadores de su memoria. Sin embargo, al comienzo de este ensayo fotográfico, Elsita todavía podía recordar detalles de la noche en que conoció a mi abuelo en un baile y de sus primeros años en la casa de su niñez. Ahora esos recuerdos se han convertido en preciadas historias que solo viven en el proyecto.

Al revisar obsesivamente su archivo, capturar sus rutinas, y documentar sus exclamaciones al observar fotos antiguas, continúo trabajando para recrear la línea de tiempo de su vida, conectando lugares, celebraciones, personas y viajes, para mantener su memoria, su personalidad y su tiempo lo más vívidos posible.

Para ver más de los trabajos de Lucía, aquí