Leonora Vicuña (b. 1952) is a Chilean photographer and professor of photography, currently based in Santiago, Chile. Noted for her sensitive observation of urban culture, Leonora is regarded as one of the most influential photographers of Latin American culture and a pioneer of arts development in Chile. She was one of the founders of the Association of Independent Photographers (AFI) – a collective of professional and self-taught photographers who fought for democracy in Chile between 1981 – 1990 by visually documenting human rights abuses. Today, another group of practitioners from the Chilean contemporary arts scene has revived the name, carrying out conservation, research, and education with reference to the original AFI’s legacy.
A graduate in visual arts and photography from the Escuela Foto-Arte, Santiago, Leonora creates work with a distinctive visual style. Capturing the night life in Santiago, Paris and Barcelona, Leonora colourises the surface of her silver gelatin prints with pencils and pigments, imbuing the work with a sense of nostalgia. As elements of black-and-white and colour intertwine, the photographs assume a kind of layered temporality; Leonora’s aesthetic fusion of past and present demonstrates how the pathos of time passing resonates within even the most contemporary photographs.
By Katherine Riley