Paola Jiménez Quispe wins the feminine in Focus 2021 prize in the Stories Category

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The series comprises archival images, unpublished works from her late father, and reflections on loss and mourning

Paola Jiménez Quispe was just five years of age when her father was murdered and found in a vehicle. He left behind a series of pictures, a devastated family and an unanswered murder case. Right now 29, the Lima-based professional photographer has spent the last six years piecing these fragments back together.

“This series is an attempt to communicate with my father, getting to know him as a man, father and partner, ” says Quispe of Guidelines for Fighting (Reglas pra Pelear) – a Female in Focus 2021 winning series. “As I didn’t have the chance to get to know him much, I had an urge to establish some kind of connection. ” The title of the task takes its name from a passing in one of her father’s notebooks – a list of 8 instructions to practise efficient conflict and resolution.  

Rules for Fighting comprises both personal webpages from her parents’ notebook computers, textual records of her father’s murder and collages of internet browser windows. Quispe also included images associated with her family that the girl took, as well as family photos: her mother pushing a pram on a windy beach front in summer; a blurry image of her older sister as a child in southern Peru. All are shot using film or disposable cameras, and all are glossed over with a palpable sense of reduction or absence.  

© Paola Jiménez Quispe

© Paola Jiménez Quispe

Quispe’s father died in 1998. But in the years that will followed, she was prevented from digging further in to his death. “When my dad was murdered I could not feel the loss, because our mother didn’t want me to suffer, ” she explains. “But it held me in the dark about my own story. ” Because of this, it had been only years later how the artist began investigating the case.

While researching, Quispe researched her father’s name plus came across a newspaper report and a photograph. “He has been covered in blood within the passenger seat of their car, ” she recalls. “I recognised his T-shirt as one I had seen him wear. ” Since then, this wounderful woman has collected 706 photos used by her father between 1986 and 1998. These helped her create a timeline associated with her father’s life plus formed the foundations of the series.

In the photographs, Quispe’s lens also turns to nature, roaming along the trees and fields that make up the landscape of her local Peru in a bid to understand her father better. “If you go to Cuzco you’ll look for a lot of mountains, and my father and mother loved their birthplace, ” she information. “Until now my family and I had a very deep link with those roots. ” However, as expressed in one image, the land is not as it seems. A rich red, which usually according to Quispe represents the particular blood and violence related to her father’s death, stains the “very beautiful place”.

© Paola Jiménez Quispe

© Paola Jiménez Quispe

© Paola Jiménez Quispe

© Paola Jiménez Quispe

“For me, it is very important to try to understand my past to understand my present. Many may say that I’m in a way stuck or nostalgic about it. On the other hand, revisiting my past is very hard, but I believe it is very important find my identity. ” 

And also allowing her to get in touch with her father, the particular series provided the Peruvian photographer with room in the future to terms with her very own identity. “For me, it is very important to try to understand my recent to understand my present, ” she stresses. “Many can say that I’m in a way stuck or nostalgic about it. On the contrary, revisiting my past is extremely hard, but I believe it is important to find my identity. ” 

Everything here, from the intertwining branches to the court claim documents, is touched by this sense of personal growth. “Digging into that loss is where I could finally find some kind of peace, ” Quispe states. In her meticulous but melancholic manner, Quispe offers produced a visual rendering of her grief, marking a turning point in the girl quest to move on inside her own way.

The Female in Focus 2021 exhibition is on show at Green Room Miami as part of the inaugural Females Photographers International Archive ( WOPHA ) Congress, from 18 Nov to 18  January 2022

With thanks to this year’s sponsor: MPB , the world’s largest online platform with regard to used photo and video clip kit

For more information about Female in Focus, c lick here.

Alice Finney

Alice Finney is an arts and lifestyle Editor and Writer, based in Berlin. A graduate from the Central School of Ballet and Sussex University, the girl specialises in writing about dance, design and popular tradition. She has written for game titles including SLEEK Magazine, INDIE Magazine, Mixmag, gal-dem, HuffPost UK, and Dezeen.

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