Serie Doméstica (2017), a work in progress, poses the ambiguous intimacy Ecuadorian women still share around the colonial legacy of domestic work. Historically rooted in the slavery of Indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian women, it is still regarded as menial, sex-based and racialized labor. Paralleling the endless cyclicality of cleaning chores, I recursively photograph my subjects within service rooms. Here, an empleada or maid and her employer’s daughter renegotiate the portrait as an image of images. The more I strive to divulge through the lens, the more muddled and complex the image becomes. Re-photographing, editing, and printing are exercises of distortion that subtract resolution and problematize visual information. There is no endpoint to the series; repeated indefinitely, the process would eventually blackout the image.
Rather than pristine surfaces, photographs are potentially malleable objects. For each photo-shoot, I incorporated different forms of intervention, each aiming to reflect a trait about the domestic worker: tearing for Diana, sowing for Olga and ironing for Cinthya. Fragmented discourses emerge to construct images beyond a single plane. Ultimately, photography’s materiality elicits a confrontation with the underlying social fabric woven into the pictures as visibly and historically unresolved. It is recognition that recalibrating and reevaluating are only but unceasing attempts to illuminate the meaning of realities that aren’t superficially discernible.