Pedro MeyerMa. Angela CifuentesDiego CifuentesHugo Cifuentes


Hugo Cifuentes
Hugo Cifuentes - Diego Cifuentes


The music that accompanies this section was composed by Diego Cifuentes


Was it ever difficult to live with father!

When I was a boy our relationship was based on the deepest fear. It was almost pathological: just listening to his footsteps made me tremble.

I was a boy with terrible respiratory problems; my asthma reached unexpected levels. During my childhood, the norm was the absence of my father, my mother's presence at all times and the admiration for that withdrawn man who locked himself in his room.

For me it was normal to live without any outside contact and to have an autarchic family life, without friends, without relatives, without the presence of outsiders. Except for father's intellectual gatherings, we had no contact with the outside world.

My father was a man of extraordinary intelligence, an honest and solitary intellectual, but he was also an absent father. This was how I first learned to relate to the world, the way I understood "normality".

When I reached puberty, my fear began to change into hatred. My siblings still felt a respect for the deity, an unbridled fear and a love I could not understand.

He loved to argue, which we generally did in the car. However, during the 15-kilometer stretch that separated our home from his office, things began to take on the dimension of a pitched battle: philosophical discussions became personal, each one keeping to his own trench without giving in an inch until the following day, when we began all over again.

I recall that when I started university, father responded with a laconic smile and then said: "You'll see that it is absolutely useless." He said this because he was self-taught; he never set foot inside a university as a student, only as a lecturer.

I studied political science, but I eventually abandoned the social sciences. Once again, it was a demolishing comment by my father that made me reflect. I had always had an interest in photography, thinking I could do both things at the same time. When by chance Father saw some photographs I had on my desk, he muttered: "Well, well, we've got plenty of social facts here, haven't we?” It was then that I knew I had to decide between photography and social science.

It was then that it all began.

Oddly, Father had an optimistic outlook on things, something I cannot always understand: his discourse was so fatalistic, but when one looks at his work, one realizes how optimistic he was; his gaze was filled with humor.

Two years have gone by since he passed away. I have come to understand many things: I understand his way of loving us, although I will never share his way of doing it.

When I left the social sciences to devote myself completely to photography, I tried to imitate Father's approach to the world; later on, somewhat intentionally, I began to take a distance. I could finally commit parricide.

I did not have to search for very long; I just let my mind speak with a voice of its own. After some years, that cruel and elusive old man embraced me.

My life has been filled with events that have not been very pleasant; therefore my vision does not share my father's humor. On the contrary, I delved deeper and deeper into the absurdities of life (of my life). Later on, things changed, and I started to talk about violence, a theme that is mentioned somewhat shyly in "The Delights of Hell" and which has become more important in my current work.

I think that it is a coincidence—or that the unconscious is so strong—that father and I approached the same subject matter, the same disciplines, but each one through his own eyes.

I am sitting here listening to some great blues. As I sit and think about the old man, I only feel gratitude and an infinite tenderness. Here, with the blues, we have finally become reconciled.

Diego Cifuentes
Quito, May 2002

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