(México DF, 1981)
Iñaki Bonillas (Mexico City, 1981) has been described as a photographer who has never taken a photograph. This is an exaggeration, of course, but there is some truth in it: most of the artist’s works starts from photos taken by his grandfather, J. R. Plaza. An aficionado of the medium, J. R. Plaza documented his own life with the portable camera. His archive, which Bonillas inherited, is a timepiece, not only of Mexico in the mid 20th century, but also of amateur visual culture. Since 2003, Bonillas has taken this archive as the raw material of his work, engaging with it in a rigorously conceptual manner. Bonillas’s systematic execution of his conceptual proposition (embodied in re-photographed prints or negatives, slides, film, and sometimes language, drawing, or even music) comments on archival practices, the non-image aspects of photography, and on the formation of narrative and sentiment through classification. He has, for instance, collected all of the portraits with closed eyes, arranged all the vertical photos in the album, traced a figure who had been consistently cut out, and revealed the handwritten tags jotted on the back. In these ways Bonillas avoids more nostalgic readings of photography and instead tells a story of the medium as a whole and the picture as object, as container of abstract conceptual information. In 2012, the greater part of Bonillas’s work with the J. R. Plaza archive was shown at La Virreina in Barcelona.