Entre el Amor y la Distancia

A Photoessay on Immigration by Kimberly M. Benavides

1.“Sé que somos fuertes” / “I know that we are strong”

View the photo gallery: http://revista.drclas.harvard.edu/galleries/entre-el-amor-y-la-distancia?

I’m a first -generation child of immigrants, dealing with the complexities of  familial love and the effects the Latin American diaspora has had on this love.

The photographs used are the few family photos that exist of my family’s lives, both here and before they migrated to this country. The text is from personal interviews that I conducted with my parents, correspondences with my maternal grandmother, notes scrawled on the backs of photographs, and words that exist in my memory. I asked my parents about their lives before me, before they met each other, and before they left their war-torn and military-governed countries of El Salvador and Argentina, respectively. Together, the prints represent a history that I have reappropriated that serve me as reminders of our pasts and our future.

At the time that I created the work, I had not gone to see my family in El Salvador or Argentina in over 15 years. The title, presented in Spanish, like much of my work, came from a conversation with my parents. We were talking about the feeling of being split in two and having one foot in the past (El Salvador or Argentina) and the other in the future (the United States), and I felt the same way, regardless of having the privilege of being born here. There was a whole other separate life, land, and people who loved me, and I them, but we had no concrete memories of time spent together. Thus leaving me to wonder how love could exist across socially constructed borders, and what lay in the space between love and the physical distance that separated us.

Kimberly M. Benavides, a graduate of Corcoran College of Art and Design, uses photography to reflect on her Hispanic identity.