Spotlight On: A Series on Culture & the Arts

sussan“Spotlight On” is XelaWho’s regular monthly series on all things cultural & artistic in Xela and Guatemala. This month’s topic is: Sussan Villagran

Sussan Villagran is a young Quetzaltenango-based photographer who is about to launch her first solo show at El Cuartito. XelaWho caught up with her to rap a little about inspiration, method and door knockers.

XelaWho: Does your work have a theme?
Sussan: There’s a few that run through this show – it’s pretty diverse, really. There are landscapes and streetscapes, events and people. Some are black and white, others are in color. While I was walking the streets, I started to focus on old door knockers and doors, so there are quite a few like that.

X: The name of the show is Justo a Tiempo. Can you tell us a little about that?
SV: A lot of things happened at the last moment. For example, I took all my photos for the exhibition on film and then put them in to be developed, but then the developers ruined the film, so I had three days to take all the photos again. Also, I was sitting looking at a doorway trying to figure out which angle to shoot and a woman came out of the house and got suspicious. She told me she was going to call the police, then went back inside. I took the photo and walked off and a few seconds later she came out again to check on me, I guess.

X: Do you have a favorite photo in the collection?
SV: There’s one of an old man asleep on a street corner near my house – I love the expression on his face. For another, we climbed to the top of the bell tower in the Cathedral to photograph the bells. We were supposed to ask permission, but couldn’t find anybody so we went up. Then an old man who was selling candles told us to get out or we’d get in trouble, so we took the photo and left – another example of just in time.

X: You work in digital and on film?
SV: I like them both for different reasons. With film, you have the excitement of not really knowing how the photo is going to turn out – you have to wait for it to be developed. With digital there’s none of that, but you do have a lot more options and you can do a lot more things.

X: This is your first solo show. Are you nervous?
SV: I’ve been in group shows before, but yeah, of course. More than that, though, I’m curious to see how people will react and what they’ll think of my work.

Justo a Tiempo will be showing at El Cuartito (13 Av 7-09, Z1) from May 7 to June 7, 2008.

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