Alessandra Sanguinetti (b. 1968, the USA) is a Magnum photographer currently based in California who is well-known for her long-term project ‘The Adventures of Guille and Belinda’. Fascinated by two cousins living in a rural province of Buenos Aires, she started photographing them in 1999 in order to capture their strong bond. In her first volume ‘The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and The Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams’, Sanguinetti portrays the then 9-10-year-old girls in humorous role-play scenes alongside sharing their intimate moments. Years later, she revisits and photographs for her second volume ‘The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Illusion of an Everlasting Summer’ when the girls are undergoing an important transformation from children to adults. Both volumes have now been published in a book form by MACK and the project additionally consists of short video excerpts. Observing the girls’ evolving relationship through Sanguinetti’s lens becomes a deeply touching experience.
In an interview with Discarded Magazine, Sanguinetti talks about the process of creating the project and her future plans.
You came across Guille and Belinda when working on your other project ‘On the Sixth Day’. Could you please explain to our readers what were your first interactions together and what made you decide to follow them?
I met Guille and Belinda while I was working on my other project ‘On the Sixth Day’, near my father’s farm in the south of Buenos Aires. That body of work was made at their grandmother’s, where they would often spend their time.
At first, I’d ask them to move aside to photograph the animals, until one day I turned my attention towards them. As soon as I began photographing and playing with them, I knew that there was a story to tell and I also intuitively knew that time would be the main character in it, as it is in all our lives. How we use time, how we spend time, how we fight time, how time changes us and how much control time has over our life’s path.
Especially in your first volume where Guille and Belinda were just nine and ten years old, one can observe their childhood imagination mirrored in the captured scenes. How would you define your collaboration together and did the dynamics between you change over time?
It was all a process of going back and forth. I would come up with my own ideas, memories and notions of childhood, and these would blend in and interact with their ideas. From playing and listening to them I would get cues on what is important for them, what their dreams, hopes and fears were, what they were excited to play out and I’d propose scenes which they would take over and adapt to their world.
When they were children, they adored the attention and were more than happy to play and pretend and be my accomplices. When they transitioned into adolescence, they naturally became more withdrawn and private and chose what to share and whatnot. All the turmoil was happening inside, so it was challenging to translate these feelings into something visual. As they grew more relaxed and confident in their lives again as adults, a bit of our relationship’s playfulness and collaborative nature came back.
What role does time play in your series and how is it reflected in the format of a book?
Time is something I’ve always thought about. I am constantly aware of time passing and struggle to come to terms with it. So, it’s natural that it is almost like a main character in the work – a force that no one can contain and that we have to accept and learn how to flow with.
Besides photography materials, over the years, you collected hours of film footage. Do you have any plans with it?
Yes. I recently received a Sundance grant that will help finance the first stages of editing. The shape and form of it are still to come.
Since ‘The Adventures of Guille and Belinda’ consists of two volumes (Enigmatic Meaning of their Dreams and The Illusion of an Everlasting Summer) that span over 20 years, do you consider this project to be finished now?
No. It’s not over. There will be a third volume in a few years, and I imagine continuing it indefinitely.