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ArtArt ReviewIn tamara suarez porras' 'parallax errors,' fractured apparitions...

In tamara suarez porras’ ‘parallax errors,’ fractured apparitions of changing perception

Masterful photographic prints at CIIS provide glimpses into momentous changes in the artist's life.

In parallax errors (through June 28 at California Institute of Integral Studies’ Desa Matta Gallery, SF) Bay Area-based artist tamara suarez porras presents a series of captivating photographs that trace enigmatic shifts in both their vision and their familial history. 

The exhibition’s name is apt: It emphasizes the perceived displacement between what is seen through one’s eye in a viewfinder of a camera versus what is captured through the lens. Parallax errors are often corrected with the use of a mirror within the camera. But here, suarez porras turns this solution on its head by highlighting the optical discrepencies. In doing so the prints unmoor the viewer from the authority of the photographic image ability to depict reality and instead hold a mirror to themself, reflecting inward. 

tamara suarez porras, ‘parallax error 41,’ 2024. Photographic print

suarez porras’ masterful photographs were shot on medium format film and the “effects” were made in-camera with a single shot. One can really appreciate the techniques they harnessed to photograph these stunning prints. Images of prisms, blurs, overlaid pages, figures, and broken glass are set against an endless black background, energizing the still images with refracted light. As if glimpsing memories pulled from an echoing well of instances, viewers bear witness to both a rupture and reformation of identity, narrated through optical artifacts. 

The series of photographs—meant to be read chronologically from left to right across two walls of the CIIS gallery—begins with four prints hung salon-style, where the viewer is confronted with questions of perception. In parallax error 109, clipped text reading “Resolution” and its definitions are scattered across the black-and-white image in a kaleidoscoping fashion. Directly to its right, parallax error 60’s dew-drop blur pulls the edges of text “atmosphere” to the peremeter of the picture plane, disrupting its legibility. Below, parallax error 21 introduces an eye caught through the layers of a prism, while parallax error 41 depicts a cracked and bent camera lens. This quadrant of prints sets the stage for the streams of unfolding narratives, stemming from suarez porras’ lived experience.

tamara suarez porras, ‘parallax error 60,’ 2024. Photographic print

Moving through the exhibition, the scale of work varies between clusters of smaller prints hung together with large-scale prints, creating a rhythm within the installation of the work. Parallax error 169, punctuates the series at the far end of the gallery as the final print in the series. A portion of a man’s face casts shadows over a stair-stepped refraction of a notebook page folded over on itself. The handwriting, consistent with other notes in other images in the series reads, “Then again, it is about time.” The print, though at the end of the series, opens another avenue of interpretation, inviting the viewer to double back and revisit the other prints in the series. 

(That revisit may yield more insight into the artist’s life: According to the artist’s statement, the images were made while suarez porras’ own vision was changing, a phenomenon that occurred around the same time as a change in perception of her family. They “discovered that their biological father was not the man who raised them. Repeatedly pouring over an archive of photographs and letters from this stranger who contributed half their DNA, the artist looks for a hint of themself in his face, a hint of who he is in letters written to their then-pregnant mother.”)

Despite their fractured appearance, rising from endless darkness, the apparitions on display conjuring a dreamscape of momentary unity—brief, beautiful, and alluring. Their aural presence jumps across the edges of the frames to create a cadence throughout the series of photographs, curiously unraveling how the past impacts the ever-present moment and shapes perceptions of oneself.

tamara suarez porras: parallax errors through June 28 at California Institute of Integral Studies’ Desa Matta Gallery, SF. More info here.

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