The Document on the Document

At the start of 2011 Astrid Jahnsen went around the Public Ministry building in Trujillo in graphics reporting mode. Accompanied by, and armed with just a camera, Astrid went attentively along through the passageways, offices and storerooms until, with some surprise; she came across the court case document Archive called Archivo Desconcentrado and the seized property room.

With a reporter’s astuteness and a refined photographer’s curiosity, Astrid pauses in these two places and surveys them with aplomb. She displays her keen eye using her camera to capture images which reflect her subtle investigation not of the present – as might be that of a photographer looking to capture a concrete fact- but one that is extensive, deliberate and highly meticulous. In Archivo Desconcentrado’, Astrid highlights the vague formal and conceptual limits of different photographic genres of documental, graphics reporting and visual art which she used in the project.

Paralelly, in a small series titled Edicion NN, Jahnsen gravitates towards another photographical form that of scientific photography that she uses to focus her camera almost microscopically on the personal objects found on the remains of unidentified bodies. These objects that constitute part of the contents of the seized property room, transform into the sole temporary remnant of the missing person as, after a “legal period of time” the belongings are incinerated.

Jahnsen is generous in her detail as she uses a steady hand in wide-angle shots as she momentarily abandons her reporting role to assume that of a documentarian. In this exercise she forgets the immediacy of the past event and pauses to seek what lies behind; the individual’s history, the pain and the injustice. Her work transmits the stories that emanate from a particularly violent period in our country during which the growth of our cities, especially in the north, is marked by violence and high crime rates, and a questionable and paralysed judicial system.

As such we finally find ourselves with wider intentions – Astrid assumes the role of an artist- where aesthetic position, social context and cultural value hold a direct dialogue, inviting us to go further. Jahnsen’s Archivo Desconcentrado, together with Edicion NN, offer us the same by means of her greatest photography quality: that of evidence. The documents and objects found in the Public Ministry in Trujillo configure an invisible infrastructure that assimilates current social reality. Astrid’s photos as well as the documents revise and emphasize that reality thus giving visibility to the invisible; documenting the documentation, reviewing testimony and lastly, representing the memory.

Exhibition held at Alliance Francaise (Lima).