Magnum Photos presents a selection from Alessandra Sanguinetti’s Some Say Ice at its Paris gallery, located in the 11th arrondissement. It is the first exhibition worldwide to exclusively present works from Sanguinetti’s remarkable fifth book, published by Delpire & Co in September 2022.
Alessandra Sanguinetti first traveled to the rural town of Black River Falls in Wisconsin in 2014, a place she first came across as a child through a copy of Michael Lesy’s Wisconsin Death Trip, found on the bookshelves of her home in Buenos Aires. Sanguinetti describes this encounter with the lost generations of Black River Falls as the moment she first acknowledged her own mortality, and an essential motivation behind her early interest in photography.
“It was the first time my nine-year-old mind understood that many more people had come before me, and I never would have been able to look in their eyes if not for those photographs,” she writes of her reaction to Michael Lesy’s book in the epilogue to Some Say Ice. “Soon after this, I started photographing everything and everyone in my life, to keep all of us from disappearing.”
Over an eight-year period, Sanguinetti would return to the Midwestern town often to photograph the people, places, and rituals of the communities, conjuring a half-dreamt world replete with equal parts suspense and wonder. Most of the work, she describes, was made in deep winter, when the days were “dark, short and somewhat claustrophobic” — a feeling that seeps through into the images of Some Say Ice, enveloping Sanguinetti’s subjects with doubt and darkness.
The book — and now the exhibition — presents a mysterious juxtaposition between mortality and timelessness. The austere intimate portraits and group shots, together with images of animals, domesticated and wild, alive, and dead, and the ghostly houses and interiors, function as scattered clues to a tale that is never fully explained, leaving us to imagine and piece together what takes place between the pages.
Taking its title from Robert Frosts poem “Fire and Ice”, in which the poet meditates on whether the world will end in the fire of desire or in the iciness of hate, the frozen unyielding landscapes are a foreboding reminder of the inevitable.
It is apt that the exhibition itself opens on the cusp of winter, as the clocks go back and darkness begins to fall earlier. The 28 works of the exhibition immerse the visitor in an eerie, timeless depiction of Black River Falls and its inhabitants through Sanguinetti’s nuanced and enigmatic lens.
Samantha McCoy, Paris Gallery Director states: “Sanguinetti is an exceptional eye from her generation. This latest, much anticipated, body of work is nothing short of arresting. Some Say Ice is an enveloping, cinematic world of contradiction, in which we are reminded of the beauty and fragility of life.”
Alessandra Sanguinetti was born in New York in 1968, and brought up in Argentina where she lived from 1970 until 2003. In 1996 she began working on a series eventually titled, On the Sixth Day, which explored the nuanced relationship between man and domesticated animals in the countryside in Argentina. Three years into this project, she turned her attention to two nine-year-old cousins, Belinda and Guille, whose grandmother’s farm had been the subject of On the Sixth Day. Sanguinetti embarked on a lifelong project, collaboratively photographing the two girls as they grew up and presently as adult women.
The first five years culminated in a much-acclaimed monograph, The Adventures of Belinda and Guille and the Meaning of their Enigmatic Dreams (2010), followed by its sequel The Illusion of an Everlasting Summer (2022).
Sanguinetti is a recipient of numerous awards and grants such as Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, a Hasselblad Foundation grant, and a Sundance Development Grant.
Her photographs are included in public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (NY), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Sanguinetti has been a member of Magnum since 2007. She is currently based in California.
Alessandra Sanguinetti : Some Say Ice
from November 7 to December 23, 2023
Galerie Magnum Photos
68 rue Léon Frot