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I am Nadja and more art by Viviana Torres-Mestey

I am Nadja, 2022
Digital Photography

Puerto Rico
vivianatorresmestey@gmail.com

Artist's Statement
I am Nadja (Self-Portrait Montage)
By Viviana Torres-Mestey

In the process of moving forward, and envisioning a future, we are rediscovering our history from different perspectives. In that endeavor, the concept of visual literacy allows us to analyze the language of the past in order to build the pathway to the next period of humankind.

Since the beginning of the 2020 Pandemic, references have been made with regard to the similarity of circumstances between this generation’s crisis and that of the Roaring Twenties, a historical period also filled with industrial advances, its own pandemic and in between wars. It would seem that we are living a modern Déjà vu from a hundred years ago.

According to Franz Boas’ theory of historical particularism, every culture is shifted by the particular historical context of the time. It’s the same for visual arts and its interpretation through visual literacy. A hundred years ago (in the 1920’s) visual art was mostly surreal and the surrealist artists were rebels against the wealthy aristocracy, all that happening in a transition period of humanity much like our present time.

“Nadja” was a book published in 1928 by André Bretón, founder of the Surrealist movement, in which he narrates the relationship between himself and a young girl who called herself “Nadja”, “because in Russian it’s the beginning of the word hope, and because it’s only the beginning.” The cover of the book, by Pierre Faucheux, was my inspiration, not only because it is a piece of visual art filled with literacy and produced a hundred years ago in a world context similar to ours, but also because I related to Nadja.

Nadja was a mental patient that ended up confined in an institution but her madness made much sense.“I am the soul in limbo”, said Nadja. Many of us may have felt, or still be feeling, a sort of limbo within all these changes to our way of living. Moreover, she warned us: “Be careful: everything fades, everything vanishes. Something must remain of us”. In this current shift to virtual living, I have found myself reminding me to connect with the outside, my plants, my pets, and everything that was not seen through a screen, seeking to hang on to my humanity.

In my attempt to remix “images as a commentary to the crises”, I created the piece titled “I am Nadja”. It was inspired by our present times and is an homage to the cover art, to the 1920’s, to the surrealists and to Nadja. Nadja said: “Again begins the ridiculous, terrible waiting, in which we do not know which object to move, which gesture to repeat - what to do in order to make what we are waiting for happen”. Maybe we already know how to make it happen, we just have to connect, reconnect, rediscover, and learn from what we already know. That is the future envision, one in which we can live the better version of ourselves, with hope (Nadeyat’sya).
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Similarities of circumstances between this generation’s crisis and that of the Roaring Twenties have been noticeable. It would seem that we are living a modern Déjà vu from a hundred years ago. In my attempt to remix “images as a commentary to the crises”, I created this piece inspired by our present times and is an homage to the cover art of the book “Nadja” by André Bretón, founder of the Surrealist Movement in the 20’s. Nadja warned us back then: “Be careful: everything fades, everything vanishes. Something must remain of us”. Let it be through visual literacy.



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