FotoFest: Untitled by Rodolfo Hernandez

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Weird, isn't it? It looks like a person that's been taken apart and then reassembled incorrectly. It's Untitled by Houston photographer Rodolfo Hernandez and currently on display at Talento Bilingue as part of their FotoFest 2010 Biennial show, "OPUS Autonomia." One of the best things about FotoFest is discovering a local artist doing work that's different, and Untitled is certainly different. And lovely (in a human/spider/monster kind of a way.)

Hair Balls spoke with Hernandez by phone and asked him about Untitled.

Hair Balls: What's going on here? How many people are we looking at altogether?

Rodolfo Hernandez: It's one person, one female. Some people think it's two people or more put together, but it's just one female. I'm basically manipulating the image on the computer to create some symmetry, although it's not exact symmetry. It's not a mirror image.

HB: And how many shots?

RH: That's one click of the camera that I've spliced. I've taken everything and flipped it horizontally. The little things that look like eyes happened just to be just a little negative space. It's not skin, it's space between two body parts. It's strongly backlit and when I flipped it, it looked like eyes. The hands looked kinda organic and animalistic. I thought of antlers when I first saw that. It would have been easy to change them, but I thought they looked kinda creepy and I like creepy.

HB: Where did the idea for this photograph come from?

RH: I have an affinity for carnivals and the [funny] mirrors in the circus; that's what gets my juices going. That, and my love for toy cameras, although I didn't make this on a toy camera. It just has that look -- it's not very sharp and it's kinda fuzzy. That's just my stylistic approach.

HB: There are six photographs in this series, but this is the first time some of them have been seen in an exhibit, right?

RH: This is the first time that I've showed them in a printed form, yes. I actually created those a couple of years ago, and then went on to other work.

Usually figure studies are a such a small part of what I do, and usually less than 2 percent am I even happy with. It's one of the oldest subjects in art, male or female figure studies. I've seen a lot and I'm trying to do something for myself that I haven't seen yet. Something that's at least different for me.

HB: Did you wonder about the reaction the photograph would get? Were you trying to confuse viewers? Make them take a second look?

RH: I'm the audience that I'm trying to make happy. My work is pretty self-indulgent in that way really; I don't think of the viewers at all. My joy is in the creation of the work. Up until the point when I say, I'm happy or content with it, it's everything before that that I enjoy. Printing it and putting it up on a wall is almost anti-climatic to me.

"OPUS, Autonomia" is on view at Talento Bilingue 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Through June 4. 333 South Jensen. For information, call 713-222-1213 or visit www.tbhcenter.org. Free.

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