Antonio Rodriguez

Tacaná

«Two years ago during a visit in my home country Guatemala, I found two photographs of my Grandfather.
I never met him, neither heard stories about his life because my father was still a child when my Grandfather died. Those both photos were still sticked on an old Mexican migratory ID-Card that my Grandfather received during the time he lived there. I was even more surprised when someone told me that he lived exiled in Mexico because of political issues during Jorge Ubico ́s dictatorship (1931/44).
Back in Germany I had the need to understand the context of this historial time in my homeland. Violence, repression and abuse of power were essential elements of the daily life back then. One year later I decided to go back to Guatemala, where my goal was to make a reconstruction of the facts around my Grandfather ́s life. I interviewed close relatives, friends and researched in old official archives in Mexico and in his hometown Tacaná (Guatemala). I only found a bunch of moldy papers and the interviews were a collection of anecdotes, which revealed disturbing fears through the silence and blank stares every time
I started asking about Ubico, dictatorship and exile.


The Project „Tacaná“ came up from the personal need to understand the mechanisms of the individual and family memory in a historical repressive context, and how identity is shaped by ideals, time, loss, absence and memory. Although this project has autobiographical components in the recognition of the roots, it also represents the need to break the silence, to rescue the memory of the family and consequently the weak historical memory of Guatemala. And to give voice to a stranger in my family: my grandfather, who questioned a regime of terror and, like many others, was forced to disappear, making it difficult for the following generation to remember them.»

 

About the artist


Graduated in graphic design and advertising; Antonio Rodriguez started his photography teaching himself, and then produced photo stories about cooperation and development for charities in Central/South America. When he moved to Spain, he started his formal training in photography and attended workshops with David Alan Harvey, Genin Andrada, Horacio Fernández and the annual course of documentary photography at Blank Paper Escuela. His work has been selected at the Bienal de Arte Paiz and at Festival FOTO-30 in Guatemala, Iberoamericanos 2012 in La Paz, Bolivia. He has won the grant “Propuestas 2010” by Fundación Arte y Derecho Madrid to develop the project “Adam’s Diary”. Currently his project “Tacana” was selected for the portfolio review in the Festival Interphoto 2019 in Poland, as well as to participate in the workshop Fiebre Lab 2019 “Photobook Production” and Dummys review in Madrid, Spain.