MEDA; charts the movements of a two million year old woman. Our primal ancestor, the first human; the one who fell from the sky in the stories of the Iroquois, the Huton and the Patawatomi. Rivadeneira’s photographs stitch an atlas for her, for a self that has learned via wonder and touch through many incarnations. The images are an invitation to ponder how the primordial in us would encounter the earth now. Around which stone she would wrap her arms, in which manner she would uncover the star dust that still lingers in the deepest wet of caves.
The resulting effect is one of silence and awe. The separations between photographer, subject, setting and viewer disappear in Rivadeneira’s work. The gaze is turned inwards as well as outwards, nature is one with the model, the photographer participates in the ritual. There is fusion. A flow that is radical. It is pagan. Light is part of stone is part of woman. Night blue hair shell curled toes. Time too, is part and parcel of geography. Memories – personal and collective, current and ancient - can be accessed through tree bark, stone, cave. Ghosts arise, because this world is serpentine rather than linear.
Whilst we keep discussing the male gaze, the Orientalist gaze, the exotic gaze, could it be possible that the gaze itself can disappear all together in an art form that is based on looking? And if so what can it be replaced by? A return to a state Ursula Le Guin described as “unnaming,” perhaps. Where hierarchies can disappear because there are no names yet that imprison. Rivadeneira reaches for a perennial mirror that holds and reflects without judgement. A story that unfolds without a master. - Defne Cizakca