About the Photographer
Argentine, b. 1950
Sylvia Malagrino is a multimedia artist and independent filmmaker born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1950. She fled the country during the Dirty War, the period of state-sponsored violence from 1976 to 1983 in which thousands of Argentines were killed, were tortured, and “disappeared” by the repressive military dictatorship. Since 1982 she has lived and worked in Chicago. No matter the medium she uses, Malagrino is interested in the intersection of subjectivity and society. She states: “I do not see my interior world as separate from my social experience; the two nourish each other. I use my dreams and personal memories as the raw material for my dreams. I approach the image-making process from an interdisciplinary perspective. I use drawing, painting, and sometimes the written word in combination with photography to expand the expressive possibilities of the image."
Malagrino is best known for her film Burnt Oranges (2005), a documentary examining the long-term effects of the Dirty War on Argentine society. Returning to Argentina decades after the violence that forced her to flee, Malagrino’s filmmaking style combines metaphor with documentation to explore subjectivity within history, integrating witness narration, interviews, documentary footage, and re-created footage to investigate the connections – as well as disconnect – between personal memory and official history. Through these narratives Malagrino tries to understand how Argentina’s past continues to shape its present as well as the challenges it poses to future generations. Burnt Oranges won a CINE Golden Eagle Award (2005), the Aurora Platinum Best of Show Award for Cultural Documentary (2007), and the Aurora Award for Directing (2007).
Malagrino has exhibited extensively, including solo exhibitions at the Rochester Institute of Technology, NY; the Rockford Art Museum, IL; and the Center for Photography, Woodstock, NY. Her work is held in collections internationally, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the National Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institute, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and the Fundaçao Athos Bulçao in Brazil. She is the recipient of many prestigious grants and fellowships, among which are the Illinois Arts Council 2011 Individual Artist Support Initiative grant, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2010), the National Endowment for the Arts Creativity Grant (2004), several Illinois Arts Council Artist’s Fellowships (1987, 1989, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2004), and the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Fellowship (1987). Malagrino is Professor of Photography at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago.