I first saw the work of Ana Barrado illustrating a book of quotes from J. G. Ballard published by Re/Search. Unfortunately, I have been unable to track down much about her work or intent other than a few blog posts and references to a photobook published in the 90s. Memories of the Future Rockets, Vintage Photographs 1980s – 1990s.
This body of work interested me in how the rockets are depicted and that it is shot on infrared film. It lends the images a strange irradiated glow that fits with the otherworldly subject. The ‘Family Outing’ image appears constructed, with the family group relaxing under a tree while looking across at the remains of a partly disassembled rocket.
The function of the rocket is to take man to outer space, the moon or beyond. It is the ultimate travelling machine, but in this scene it is juxtaposed with people in wheelchairs, where mobility is extremely limited. The rocket, missing its engines and lying in the horizontal, emphasizes its own immobility, its future earthbound.
The family under the tree appears to span 3 generations, perhaps alluding to the multigenerational time needed to reach the stars and the interstellar ark needed for the journey. My interest in SF and the work of Ballard certainly influences my reading of the image, although I would like to know what concept Ana had in mind when creating this work.
Two aspects of this work are of interest to my practice. Infrared is an aesthetic I have been exploring as it depicts a part of the light spectrum we cannot normally see. I want to employ this as a metaphor for the things that are around us we choose for whatever reason not to see or acknowledge. The invisible, visible world.
The giant fabricated rocket structures dwarf the people in the images, it’s as if they are trespassing in a technological graveyard memorializing some past glory. They remind me of the grain silos on the factory farms; they have this dull, menacing gleam, components in an automated machine, feeding a living graveyard.
‘Ana Barrado Rockets Catalog’. 2021. [online]. Available at: https://hklindsayphotography.files.wordpress.com/2021/02/7718e-2011-05-06_abarradocatalogue.pdf [accessed 13 Feb 2021].
BARRADO, Ana, Deborah BELL and Bell PHOTOGRAPHS. 2021. ‘Ana Barrado — Deborah Bell Photographs’. Deborah Bell Photographs [online]. Available at: https://www.deborahbellphotographs.com/ana-barrado [accessed 13 Feb 2021].
‘JG BALLARD QUOTES FlexBack NOT AUTOGRAPHED 100 Made’. 2021. RE/Search Publications [online]. Available at: https://www.researchpubs.com/shop/jg-ballard-quotes-flexback-not-autographed/ [accessed 13 Feb 2021].
‘Memories Of The Future: Ana Barrado/Rockets @Bell – Collector Daily’. 2021. Collector Daily [online]. Available at: https://collectordaily.com/memories-of-the-future-ana-barradorockets-bell/ [accessed 13 Feb 2021].