Laura San Segundo – El Recinto Circular

The world as will. And representation. Time is a flat circle, The Returnal, Cosmic materiality, and our conceptual place within it. Quantum feelings, quantum seeing. Numerous artists have grappled with our place within the sublime, rotating blue rock we call home as it spins through the vast cosmos, manacled to a bright ball of fiery orange. This is, in part, of how we understand consciousness itself. We assess time, life, and death through our visual landscape. We mark rocks and trees and leave messages to remind ourselves of being. What did Bertrand Russell and Diego Maradona have in common? It wasn’t Wittgenstein. They had more in common with an apple, a swan, its neck tucked under cold water as much as they did a melting ice cube.


Materiality, the common reference to objects, things, or a sense of the quantifiable in human terms and its relational dialog is very hard to illustrate, let alone photograph. Mårten Lange, Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine, Aleix Plademunt, Sofia Borges, Laura Bielau, and Batia Suter amongst others have quested to put into terms what our world looks like through the process of art/mark-making. We may only suggest the idea of time, a concept that we as humans have arguably invented to better or worse ends for ourselves. What does time look like? How do we explain it along a line? How do we explain the concept of Thursday? or the memory of it?

Imagine talking to a child born of earth who has no concept of these things. They ask how to measure time, we follow with an explanation of units, measurements, and so forth. In the end, they simply ask Why? They are not as interested in How, but they suspect the Who that has created the narrowing confines of measurement and what that suggests about their own relationships to the question posed. Time is irrelevant until there is none to be had. and even this is very, almost crucially easy to forget.


Laura San Segundo’s El Recinto Circular is a book that incorporates text, vernacular photographs and her own sublime photographs. She is an incredibly gifted artist and though I very much enjoy the book, I might suggest that readers take more time with her Instagram or website to get a more full picture of her process and the results of her interests. There is something metaphysical about El Recinto Circular that hints at philosophy and asks the reader to consider her work with a sense of magical realism incorporated. Of the artist’s that I have listed above whom are interested in some of the same questions between memory, being, materiality, time, and consciousness,  Aleix Plademunt and Mårten Lange are probably the artists whom I think fit Laura’s universe most succinctly, but Batia Suter can also be argued, though more on concept than visually. Mårten Lange in particular shares the restraint that Laura exhibits, particularly in his book Another Language (MACK, 2012), mostly due to the restraint I mention, but also due to thinking about the elements of time and THE universal. Plademunt conceptually draws from similar waters, but like Suter works toward the encyclopedic, which is a process, but not one that I am want to spend as much time with due to visual fatigue taking over. I might also suggest a nod toward Guido Guidi’s Lunario (MACK, 2020)


El Recinto Cicrular, in format, reminds me a little bit of Shawn Bush’s book Between Gods and Animals (VOID, 2022) though without the tedium of identity politics backing it into something of a hollow corner. The design of Laura’s book is smart and cohesive. My only one criticism of the book is that I do not believe the vernacular snapshots add any weight to the overall sequence. As a collector of said material and someone who has used it in my own work, I am very sensitive as to how snapshots, family pictures etc., work in a book. I find they rarely add much weight to the work and often feel like a gimmick. I do not feel that in Laura’s book, but I do not feel they add anything of significance. Without them, the book may have been more cohesive, but might (arguing with myself here) run into slight issues with redundancy had she not used them. The threads of her photographs, the text (and type art) and the variations of photographs web it together pretty well without this. The repetition of the body, the phenomenal pieces, or images of phenomenon link everything together well. I will talk about the text in a moment.



On the point of sequence, the book is well ordered and shares a slightly palandromic sequencing with images like the moon and a particular rock/brick making an appearance early and late in the sequence. Palandromic sequencing is one of the fundamental approaches to photobook making that I gravitate toward. It is slightly redundant at points, but with two or three other strong elements, it suffices to uphold the architecture of the book. In the case of Laura’s book, it is reduced until the end, which conceptually make the book somewhat of a circle itself. Palandromic sequencing is architectural. One starts the edits by finding the common themes or image types and then evenly distributes them throughout the book with the ending sequencing echoing the beginning. Each pylon or image type that is spaced out over the number of pages at intervals keeps the sequence rooted and reminds the viewers of things they have seen before creating a subconscious order within the book. From there, secondary and tertiary elements/threads can be added. So long as there are only 3/4 of those elements maximum, the sequence will retain its integrity.



As for elements in El Recinto Circular, the artist uses the very noticeable element of type art in the work. Type art traditionally is used with a typewriter. The artist/writer types works letters etc. into associative forms that become visual. You see it often with poetry. Though it does enter into the art book often, it is often thought of as collage. Laura’s use of this formation text is exceptionally strong. It allows her to talk about her conceptual groundwork without breaking the visual plane of reading. And, the text itself is smart, which makes it pertinent and worthy of inclusion as a thread in the sequencing of the book. It is not random, so it suffers no chaos for it. Overall, this gives the reader an impression of intention, but she does not dull the book down by insisting that we read it exactly as she frames it, allowing our ability to interpret the work freely. I appreciate this. In many ways, this is prime example of an artist who knows how to make art, how to engage an audience, and how to achieve critical success while also keeping the work enigmatic enough to enjoy. Not an easy feat, sadly. I highly recommend El Recinto Circular and I do suggest you keep an eye on Laura’s work.



Laura San Segundo

El Recinto Circular

General Directorate of Cultural Promotion / Shoot




Original Text and Press Release



The starting point of The Circular Enclosure is my fascination with our mind’s ability to generate images without conscious or rational intervention, especially when we meditate, are distracted, absorbed, or in a state of sleep; and the residual relationship that these images may have with reality.

I set out to represent the idiosyncrasy of these unconscious thoughts and visions through the use of the particular codes with which they operate: fragmentation, repetition, loops, time jumps, images as echoes of other images, stairs that do not lead to nowhere, landscapes as mental places and elements that disappear and appear transformed into something else. The resulting series – made up of photographs I took in Iceland, photographs I have taken in recent years and images found in antique shops – poses how not only those visions or unconscious mental processes can alter the inherent meaning of an image or element through symbols. , but also the photographic editing itself; that dialogue that is established between different images.

In some way, it is the purpose of translating a somewhat intangible experience into images, constantly keeping in mind that mental state in which seeing and stopping seeing or thinking and stopping thinking becomes uncontrollable; in which we want to see something, but it escapes us, or it is blurred, or it is hidden; or in which we want to stop seeing something, and it appears to us again and again.

The reference with which I articulate the project through the title is a story that Jorge Luis Borges wrote in 1940, The Circular Ruins, where a man arrives at some ruins in the jungle – the circular enclosure – with the supernatural purpose of creating another. man in dreams A magical project for which he only had to sleep and dream, and which concluded when he realized that he was also a man in the dream of another man who dreamed him.

As in Borges’ story, that overlap that speaks of reality within the dream and the dream within another dream is the sensation on which my work gravitates, a series of images where time has somehow been suspended. Without a possible narration, what remains is the confusing feeling that what we see seems not to be real, but unconscious. The images thus function like sediments without a spatial or temporal connection that, carried by a river, end up finding themselves in another place or accumulating in a crack.

Circular Enclosure. Laura San Segundo

Prize Photobook 40 Community of Madrid 2023


Publication / Book
Coordination of the project Photobook 40 Jesús Micó
Edition / Publisher General Directorate of Cultural Promotion / Shoot
Coordination Community of Madrid / Madrid Regional Government Coordination
Coordination Community of Madrid / Alicia Nieto Fernández
Text / Text Thursday, time and sleep. / Eduardo Brito
Translation / Translations / Blanca Martín-Calero (PT/ES) Sara Veiga (PT/EN)
Design / Graphic Design / underbau
Prepress / Pre-press / Eduardo Nave
Printing / Printing / Graphic Arts Palermo
Binding / Binding / Méndez

La The font used in this book is
Simoncini Garamond and has been printed on
Munken Pure and Wibalin Natural Ruby (leafpapers).
The font used in this book is Simoncini
Garamod and it has been printed on
Munken Pure and Wibalin Natural Ruby paper (endpapers). 128



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