Martina Bacigalupo, Gulu Real Art Studio, (2011-2012)
“While waiting for some prints to be made in a small studio in Gulu, I noticed an unusual object on the desk – an ordinary 10 x 15 cm photograph of someone posing for a portrait, but with the face strangely missing, leaving a square void where the head had been. I asked what this was and the woman at the counter said that she had overlooked it and proceeded to discard it. When I told her that I would like to see her trash bin, people around us laughed, but a man named Obal, who was part of that crowd, amused like the others and yet, I think, more curious, told me that if I was interested he would be happy to show me more. What I discovered was an extraordinary cache of headless portraits. They were all well composed, with subjects seated on a chair or a bench, with a blue, white or red curtain behind them, in various poses and modes of dress. Obal, who was running the oldest photography studio in town with his father, told me the secret behind the photographs: he had the only machine that would make four ID photos at a time, and since most of his clients didn’t need four pictures, he therefore preferred to tsk e a traditional portrait and cut an ID out of it. This was common practice in most of the studios in Gulu. Captivated by th eerie result, I asked Obal if he wouldn’t mind outing aside all of the leftovers he was going to produce that day. When I went back in the evening, he handed me a little box”.