Tarrah Krajnak uses both her body and the darkroom to force out the ghosts that haunt her life. In the project 1979: Contact Negatives she works with large-format cameras and projections of street scenes from old newspapers to take herself back to Lima, Peru, in the year she was adopted from an orphanage there. It was a bloody time in the country’s history and the self-portraits reveal how violent or traumatic stories can be enclosed in bodies, excluded from archives.
Tarrah was adopted by an American couple from the Midwest. She was told different stories about her origins. According to the nuns at the orphanage, her mother was a young woman from a village in the north who had moved to Lima. She was raped – and that is how Krajnak came to be born. Later, she learned that the same story is told about Sarita Colonia, a Peruvian folk saint whose life was popularized around 1980.
In the series Master Rituals II: Weston’s Nudes, she grapples with the problematic legacy of modern American photography. As both tribute and critique, she engages with Edward Weston’s work by editing and recreating it. She seeks to emphasize the absence of coloured models in the photographer’s work, how the women who placed their bodies at his service found their heads and faces cropped out.
Tarrah Krajnak is based in Los Angeles. Her photo book El Jardín De Senderos Que Se Bifurcan (based on the short story “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges) was nominated in 2021 for the Paris Photo Aperture PhotoBook Awards and ended up on the list of photo books of the year selected by MoMa in New York. Krajnak’s works can be found in many public and private collections, including the Centre Pompidou, the Museum Ludwig, and the Pinault Collection.