Matilde and Paula have a unique friendship, an enchanting story backed with beautiful imagery. The pair has transcended the divide of the seas and time differences (Matilde in Porto, Portugal and Paula in Buenos Aires, Argentina) to develop their shared photographic journal – a continuous visual conversation. It’s a breath of fresh air scrolling through their works on Tumblr, their back and forth as they each venture through their personal photography archives to find the perfect response to the image before. Instead of deciding on a theme then posting based around this, the pair use the platform as a free, wordless conversation.
Thanks to the ease of emails we were able to have a conversation of sorts, discussing the Internet Age, creativity and friendship. Reading through their responses it becomes so clear that while the two may never have met in person, there is a great bond between them: a deep knowing and appreciation of one another. Pen friends can and should exist in adulthood too. There are sisters to befriend everywhere.
Hey Matilde and Paula! What inspired this project and how did it begin?
Paula: I think it is just like La Double Vie de Véronique (it’s a movie, go find it. I made Matilde watch it). Acknowledging that you’re deeply connected to someone you don’t know, who’s probably thousands of miles away. We know each other from Flickr times, and, as years went by, our relationship grew stronger over the internet.
Matilde: Exactly! There was this “visual” empathy unlike any other I’ve ever had. I e-mailed her suggesting we create a Tumblr, and she said yes!
P: I thought “Of course! Why didn’t we do it before?”
H: Where did your individual love photography come from?
M: It came from holding a friends’ camera, taking a few pictures of her, and then realising the power of it. Sontag wrote extensively about this so I’ll just say too, go read her book On Photography.
P: A big part of my life is photography, I don’t think it is something I can explain or even identify its source.
There are a lot of similarities flowing through the images as part of the conversation, from beautiful landscapes to your mothers’ wearing leopard print. Is there anything this project has taught you?
P: We understood that we are connected, that we know each other despite the spatial and time limitation. And that’s wonderful.
M: I couldn’t say better!
What are your thoughts on friendship and collaboration in the Internet age?
P: We live in a world in which technology is thought to help us and unite us, but the paradigm is other: it works on isolation and disconnection. To avoid, to fight that, we must build bridges, connect, get involved.
Matilde: I believe it allows you, from an early age, to find the niche that best suits you, even if it is miles away from you.
For many years, I resorted to that – had “virtual” friends on internet forums, we shared some, much of that over message boards. Now, as an adult, it is still a vehicle to keep bonds and friendships. And also to create collaborative projects just like this one.
We see a back and forth conversation with images in the project so clearly and eloquently. In what ways do you believe in the strength of visual communication?
M: Just like written speech, and our usual concept of literacy, I believe there is also something called visual literacy. You get to build a whole narrative using just pictures.
P: Speaking and writing can be so difficult for me; I have a hard time expressing myself using words. Images are enough.
Is there a message you hope to shine through or show people through this?
M: We started this project just for the sake of sharing pictures with one another.
P: With naivety, just to see what would come out of it…
Where do you see this project/friendship going in the future?
P: Hahahahaha. Again, I don’t know, I’m just thinking about the present!
M: I’m slightly more hopeful about this than Paula! I hope we can meet in real life! And take pictures side by side someday!
And, last but not least, if you could change just one thing in the world today, what would it be?
P: Personally, and (this being a) few days after the March 8th march in which I was part of here in Buenos Aires, I would like to change the perception of women. I saw repression and violence in this march, in something that should be peaceful. I want to be treated with respect and not being forced to defend myself. And, for once, that we stop thinking of violence as a tool to establish order. We, humans, need to develop empathy.
M: I’m with Paula on this. Empathy. If we make the effort of picturing someone else’s reality and try to feel it, things would be a lot different.