André França’s images concern existence, occupancy and the perception of a passerby. Throughout his series, there is an awareness of separation in time and space; the photographs ignite a sense of a fleeting reality and address the temporal nature of our lives. We are presented with a very matter-of-fact kind of photograph which França has described as “a small whirlpool of imprisoned time.” Memory is an ephemeral sense and the images bring us back to a time, not for a confirmation of anything but as a reminder of what is not true.
We are never confronted with faces, only the markings left by humans and nature. Whether it is an overgrown façade or the fading body of a well known icon, França leaves room for interpretation and emotion. He raises the question of time and untimely death, homes turned derelict, and a hint of the general public’s discernment of these passing actions. He photographs from a certain distance to make the viewer feel like a voyeur, privy to the information only present in these photographs as if everything has since disintegrated.
Some time ago, I attended the Annenberg Space for Photography's exhibition, Beauty CULTure, in Los Angeles, a city and culture known for beautiful women, whether real or enhanced. The exhibition got me thinking about the work of André França, a Brazilian photographer, who has created a project titled Vanishing. His images at first glance are disturbing—images of women seemingly tossed aside, traumatized and neutralized, left without protection and identification. At the same time, there is a beauty to these totems, frozen in time and vanishing from sight.
As a female, I interpret his work in a variety of ways. For me, it's about loss, about becoming invisible, about our youth centric culture and the desire to turn back time. As a child, these dolls were templates for my future womanhood, offering me fashion and beauty ideals, and looking at André’s images, I feel like these totems are fading, frozen in time and inaccessible to future interaction, as if it is time to move away from those impossible-to-achieve symbols for perfection.
But, more importantly, the work also reminds me those who were lost to neglect, abuse and murder. The work is a powerful statement about the lack of reverence for women around the globe. The photographs reveal women simply objects to be discarded and dismissed, nameless and faceless, turned away and face down. His work provokes an important conversation about power, sex, and control.
I bring all these interpretations to the work because André doesn't have a statement for this project, as he prefers to have the viewer bring their own reactions to the work. Vanishing makes me long for a heatwave, for a melting and releasing of these trapped souls, but they also make me want to work harder to protect and honor women who have no voice.
Text about the Vanishing (2010) series.
Antonio Marcos Pereira
Text about the Houses and Time (2004) series.