Fayum – Victoria Rivera
Victoria Rivera, Coyolillo.
Honduras. 1995. platinum-palladium print. 8×10 inches
And then, the Fayum portraits are not distinguished just by the rendering of eyes. The place at which the face looks is, I think, what makes them feel timeless; a place that is somewhere beyond the viewer, and both after and before what is experienced. Victoria Rivera, a remarkable lady bringing up what seemed like a small hoard of grandchildren, lived in a remote village that could only be accessed via a 2 hour hike. Fascinated by the large camera, when I asked her to not move while I focused, she sat, very, very still — and looked into and beyond the lens. I still recall the thrill and chill I felt as she looked into the camera, through the ground glass, (past my eyes that were trying to focus on her eyes,) head and beyond.
The correspondence between the fayiumi and my portraits has a lot to do with the process of photographing with a large format camera.