Luis Fernando Ponce has arranged a set up of objects, on a little “stage”; each in front of what could be a heavy theatre curtain. These objects can primarily be identified as things, which externalise and exemplify the American society. In the majority of the images, the objects are portrayed alone or sometimes limited to a couple, so one in clear view can take a good look and identify each object. The light exenterates each of them, reminiscent of how stage lighting directs the eye for attracting attention. Making them stand out to tell a story as in monologs and small dialogs, and only by bringing all of these images together do a fully coherent story become apparent. These things carry references to the impression made on the mind and emotion elicited in the observer.
To portray objects could seemingly appear like a simple act, but to the genre of still life there is always a variety and complicated topics connected to it. And it is within this longstanding tradition Luis Fernando Ponce follows. These objects, in the photographs, of simple recognisable forms, strike a key by their portrayal of formal still life. Why do these objects meet on the classical scene? A single point is made accessible in a plausible ‘universal’ language. In this photographical series the objects are in the centre of the picture plane, and are the centre of Ponce’s pictures universe. In the western view the man function as the measures of all things. The meanings of the world are dependent on our own understanding and vintage point. The Coca Cola bottle, as seen in one of the images, does in itself not solely earn its meanings out of its own evolutionary history, but becomes first meaningful in terms of the anthropocentric metaphors we assign to it.
All photographs describes in the sense that they offer descriptive, visual information, with greater or lesser detail and clarity. These photographs go far beyond the interest of portraying objects as mere visual facts. They are objectified icons to exemplify two historically distinctly different societies. The images draw upon objects, which hold inter-woven symbolism and influences from the American society over the Guatemalan society. They shift between the literal and the allegorical, exploring the projection of one culture over another. Luis Fernando Ponce’s images resonate with sentiment: one cultures slipping away and the evident superseding of another, and sometimes even unwillingly witnessing the embracing ‘implementation of today’s world order culture’. Luis Fernando makes statements about the influence of this dominant culture over another. He faces the viewer straight on in his desire to ask them to be conscientious in the adaptation of elements of another culture into their own lives. The images are direct social commentary on ‘the great game’ of exploitation and new colonialism.
The work of Luis Fernando Ponce falls in the category of interpretative photography. The objects are depicted to hold and attempt scientific accuracy. The images of the Coca Cola bottle, gun, radio, plane etc. are bearers of cultural mythologies. In their staged way they carries personal and subjective interpretations. Although they present an apparent clear directorial mode, many of these images play with ambiguity, and are open to a variety of readings. Interpretative photographs need of course to be interpreted, and places the interpretative responsibility on the viewer. The construction of meaning may shift. It shifts naturally according to the audience, by each spectator, and their cultural making. That’s what makes for an interesting spectacle.
by Malin Barth
She is a curator with an emphasis on photography, and has curated and written on various artists such as Andres Serrano, Tina Modotti, and Edward Weston.