As Borges has noted, “Photography can be used as a tool to mold our sense of reality,” and, indeed, her own work exemplifies this. Borges’s surreal pictures—which are often shot in museums, zoos, aquariums, archives, or other institutions in which display mechanisms play a central role—stimulate us to acknowledge the artifice and spectacle of photographic representation.
While visiting an anthropological museum in Mexico, Borges photographed sculpted depictions of early humans. Instead of presenting them straight on, as they are meant to be encountered by museum visitors, she captured the backs of these slightly stooped figures as they were reflected in their glass vitrine. The photographer’s hand is visible against the glass surface at the right side of the picture, but there is no trace of her camera. Such details, which function as clues for comprehension, are obscured by the multiple layers of reflection. This initially unassuming picture prompts us to consider how we comprehend our surroundings: How do the lenses and languages of representation influence our perception? And how does our understanding of reality compare to that of the beings that lived before us, such as those represented by the small figures at the center of this picture?
Gallery label from Being: New Photography, 2018