Fernando Bengoechea’s Photography Lives On
Last week, I was surprised to receive a message from Marcelo Bengoechea, the brother of the late photographer Fernado Bengoechea who was swept away by the tsunami of 2004. He is reviving his brother’s art of weaving his photographs and is now offering them for sale for the first time since Fernando’s death. I remember tearing out a page from a magazine many years ago that highlighted this unusual art form and thinking it was the most amazing and beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was a pleasure to hear more about the process from Marcelo and know that Fernando’s photography will live on.
HC: Can you tell me how you decided to start this project?
MB: The revival is something totally new. I just could not let Fernando’s art share his tragic fate. He’s dead. I have no choice than to accept that. What I refuse is to accept the death of his beautiful work so I took it as a personal mission to revive it. As a designer myself, laid off a couple of months ago after 10 years as the Creative Director for the surf brand Reef, I realized that it is the perfect time to do something like this. I had been thinking about it for a couple of years and after a good conversation with Nate Berkus I just had to do it. The reception has been so positive that it keeps me motivated to continue the project. It is still too early to say if it is going to succeed or not (financially speaking) , but to tell you the truth, it doesn’t matter, it is a success to family and friends already.
MB: For sure there is some kind of therapy in the weaving process, but mostly I feel honored, loved and a sense of continuing our friendship and good times after his death. We had the kind of relationship where just by looking at each other we knew what we were thinking and most of the time those instances were during mischief or adventures. I know a lot of the stories behind the images and that brings me closer to them and to him. His death was my first close up experience with loosing somebody important in life and I do not think I’ll ever get over it. Weaving definitely helps.
MB: At this point I am doing limited editions, hand weaving each one of them. I watched my brother weave those images and thought he was somehow insane, now I feel his energy pass through my hands as I weave and think this is crazy. Crazy in a good way, a proud way. Vivre.com just started offering them last week and it is the only place to find them for now other than through myself. One of this days I will have a new website and make them available there as well. I am following Fernando’s original concepts, including the framing style of his latest works (the Karma Trees series that was shown at Ralph Pucci Gallery), framing them in rich Peruvian Walnut and “floating” them the same way he did. I am even using a knitting needle as a weaving tool that once belonged to our grandma and he used to weave the smaller pieces. I am also adding my touch (please see Cabeza de Vaca I and II concept) to evolve and add some design as well.
“It is a collaboration between brothers. It just happens that one of them is dead. We were able to work together in several shoots for Reef that he shot and I directed and it is great to continue our team work this way. Since the beginning of our professional careers that was a goal of ours and I am proud to say that it is still going on.” – Marcelo Bengoechea