Natalie Schönfeld - Photographer

Newspaper: EL NACIONAL, Caracas- Venezuela.
Thursday, August 12th 1999.


Natalie Schönfeld presents her first solo exhibition at the "Sala La Fotografía" in the Ateneo de Caracas, and there she dives in the world of the coast, the fish, the sea and the nets with a lens half way between visual poetry and documentary in color.

Edgar Alfonso-Sierra.

Tritons have landed. Men attached to the sea. Working men of that complex saline biosystem, of liquid abyss. Natalie Schönfeld dove, during December '97, in the reality of these early beings of the sea and the depths. With the fisherman of Chuao, the photographer reedited what constitutes her work from 6 years ago: to stop visual time.

In "su mundo: LA MAR"; synthesizes this experience in 20 photographs which translate the fishing task of the "Aragüeña" region. The show will be opening on Tuesday August 17th at the "Sala La Fotografía" in the "Ateneo de Caracas". Schönfeld is highly servile to the atmosphere, beauty and color implicit in the fishing activities.

The work process of this Venezuelan, now living in Toronto, Canada, is investigative and journalistic, with such methodology as the one used by authors of the lens such as Sebastio Selgado. The theme is the human being, his behavior, his activities, his gesture forms, his beliefs and the physical expressions suggested by his body. The photographer expresses herself through the lens, using the benign look, the soft touch of the eye.

In order to approach this images it is important to understand that the vision of this photographer comes from a trained respect of the lives identified with the edge, with that point in which the human senses take a step back to rearrange themselves taking chaos as the starting point. In other words, her subjects of choice have been the spiritual worship of different mundane cultures - different relationships with G-d- (series: "tueri: a look within") and the tactile communication -contact- that the deaf seniors develop in the case of sight loss (series: "Perceptions of Light"). It is important to note that, far away from commiseration, Natalie Schönfeld brings her lens into this world as one who walks for the first time into an ancient cathedral. With acknowledgement and gratitude for the luck of being there.

The photographer follows the typical tradition of her career: travel. From Benares, India she has tried to form a spiritual narrative that would take the viewer to the love of the Hindu for the River Ganges, nucleus of spiritual and social exaltation being threatened by ecological degradation. From Jerusalem: the religious rigour of the Hassidic neighbourhood, the Palestinian resistance, the Muslim devotion or the crude mourning for the homicide of Prime Minister Rabin. From the Amazon: the effigy of a Shaman captured in the shadow that his body casts while he rests.

For "su mundo: LA MAR", an encounter between the world of the fish and the world of the fisherman in the grand entity which contains them both: the sea, Natalie Schönfeld, who tried to be faithful to the vibrant chromatic resolution of Chuao, worked with the technique of cross processing, the only way to achieve her purpose, she confesses. This is her first body of work in color.

Natalie has been working freelance for the past 2 years as a photojournalist for several Canadian newspapers: Post Newspapers, The Liberal, the Era Banner, and the Globe and Mail. She graduated with honours from Ryerson Polytechnic University with a BAA on Photographic Arts. She spent 1 year in Jerusalem, Israel as part of a student exchange program with Bezalel Art School. This body of work, "su mundo: LA MAR", was exhibited this year in the International Festival of Photography Contact 99 in Toronto; Natalie Schonfeld has had several other individual exhibitions in that same city.

This is her first exhibition in Caracas, where she has also presented the calendar: "Photographs of Venezuela 1999". She has published the book Life is Else(where?), about the lives of 42 children in the orphanage "Hogar Corazón de Jesús" in Caracas, and has been a part of other publications such as A Seed in the Pocket of Their Blood by Rafi Aaron. Her next exhibition will open at Gallery 44 in Toronto next October.

About her art and her career, Natalie Schönfeld, says: "Photography, more than the final print, is a process. It is born out of the experiences shared with others, out of respect for the lives they live. It is an offering presented to the seeker. The photograph is a representation of what was once lived, a time that will no longer be but will always be reflected upon".

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