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Kehrer Verlag : Cristina Dias de Magalhães : Instincts. Same but different


Experiences of early childhood, captured through the eyes of the artist’s twin daughters 

Victoria’s and Helena’s birth changed everything. They are now part of my world, my life, myself. We evolve side-by-side united by a unique bond. I started Instincts. Same but different as the silent observer of this nascent dyad’s explorations and encounters. I now know that this has been the process to redefine myself as a woman, a mother, and an artist.

“Instincts. Same but different” reads like a diary in which Cristina Dias de Magalhães deciphers her family environment visually and emotionally. She rediscovers the moments linked to early childhood, and she establishes a dialogue between human and animal where instincts prevail and guide, endowed with symbolism. Her diptychs reveal a silent bond created through moments shared and felt together, reminding us that we are born into a complex world where instincts are the basis for survival.


From the essay by Christian Gattinoni:

The author’s text guided me to her favorite place — the Natural History Museum in Geneva, an institution hosting numerous dioramas and the backdrop for these photographs. Initially, they represented exclusively regional Swiss fauna, but since the 1990s, they have expanded to include animals from all continents.(…)

The institution’s information leaflet tells us that the museum’s mascot is a two-headed Greek tortoise named Janus, in reference to the ancient god. This two-headed tortoise, born inside the institution’s incubators in 1997, broke a longevity record. The three year-old twins love visiting the other mounted animals, which are as frequent a subject of maternal photography as the twins themselves.

In all of the diptychs the face-to-face is played out at the level of a child. The image is tightly framed, expressing an intimate and playful distance. In the dioramas the animal often faces the public or is set according to its best profile. This leads to confrontations such as a bird seeming to pay attention like a big brother to the two little ones, and a hare curiously witnessing effusions of tenderness between mother and daughter echoed by the long ears of a cuddle toy. The photographic conventions of portraiture are applied here to the realm of the animals, meanwhile the camera catches the twins by surprise in closeups of their gestures, figures of an ever-repeating circle, never in the full ligh of their faces. Next to the bodies of the mounted animals and those of the two little girls, a third body of work brings into play the children’s drawings. Here again, Cristina is part of an artistic tradition that goes back to the avant-garde creators of The Blaue Reiter Almanac, published in Munich in 1912. They were the first to collect and publish children’s drawings.


Cristina Dias de Magalhães (b. 1979 in Luxembourg) is an artist photographer,who explores the human body and being through different ways of observing and perceiving.Over recent years, her photographic work has been exhibited in France, Spain ,Portugal, Luxembourg, Tunisia, and China. She also holds a PHD in Fine Arts from University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

« Instincts. Same but different » was shown at the Imago Lisboa Photo Festival 2020,at the Centre d’Art Nei Liicht,and during the European Month of Photography 2021 in Luxembourg.


 Cristina Dias de Magalhães : Instincts. Same but different
Texts by Dominique Baqué, Christian Gattinoni, Françoise Poos
Kehrer Verlag, 2022
Designed by Kehrer Design (Loreen Lampe)
Hardcover, Swiss binding, 16,5 x 22,6 cm, 96 pages, 53 color illustrations, English, French
ISBN 978-3-96900-063-2
Euro 38,00

The book was produced with the support of the Ministry of Culture Grand Duchy of Luxembourg & the Grant « Bourse CNA – Aide à la création et à la diffusion en photographie 2021 ».


Promenades photographiques, Vendôme, France
02.07. – 27.08. 2022

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