Karen Paulina Biswell
The familiar unknown
Photographer, Karen Paulina Biswell shared her childhood between France, a country where her parents emigrated to flee extreme political repression, and Colombia, which she discovered later, from the age of 13. She lives and works between Paris and Bogotá.
From a certain angle, her work, constantly being redefined, can be considered documentary. However, Biswell never begins an investigation with the intention of presenting a particular social or political message. Rather, her work could be said to be autobiographical. She is committed to capturing the lesser known aspects of contemporary life, the invisible and challenging elements of society, through her own experience, taking a deep interest in the extreme states and depths of the human mind and experience.
Her works are held in the collection of Le Musée du Quai Branly. It has been the subject of numerous international exhibitions, including the MOMENTA Biennale (2019).
"I am really exploring the lives of others through my own experiences. Just like an author or film director who explores different characters would, because they feel an affinity towards them. I find that most of the ‘characters’ I work with are outsiders or outcasts who have a lot of self-confidence and assume their identity without also judging others. The purity that comes from flawed characters fascinates me. Just like the jesters in the paintings of Velazquez, the ‘freaks’, were the only ones who could get away with speaking the truth. I believe this also comes through in the portrayal of my ‘characters’ who are often the natives, prostitutes and people in generally vulnerable situations".