Zully Sotelo
Colombia -
December 15, 2022

Aquí y allá: The Photobook as a Reflection

Many stories of photographers or people related to photography begin with childhood memories of playing with cameras. Others have less romantic beginnings. Zully Sotelo says that photography was one of the subjects that frustrated her the most when she studied fine arts. The training focused on analog photography when she was a student, and Zully felt that everything went wrong. Then she decided to specialize in photography and, although she was no longer concerned about perfect photos, she could not find herself in the genres and internal boundaries of photography. 

While searching for definitions, Zully went through several collectives and organizations. She participated in the Incubadora de Fotolibros de Hydra+fotografía program with professors such as Ramón Reverte, Ana Casas Broda, Laia Abril or Gonzalo Golpe and with authors such as Nelson Morales, Santiago Escobar-Jaramillo, Diego Moreno or José Luis Cuevas. Little by little, she found an exciting place in managing projects to show what is happening in photography. Thus began Aquí y Allá, a project that defines itself as: “an organization, a platform, a parallel universe that goes from one place to another generating collaborative projects and dynamics around photography.”

Croma – Recuerdo

How did Aquí y Allí start?

Aquí y Allá was born in 2019. A little before I traveled to Argentina to get away from the local photographic guild, I wanted to disconnect. I felt I had a lot of passion for landing ideas, looking for people, connecting them, and doing things, but I was tired of working in society. I have been participating since 2016 in the Editorial Encounters of the ArtBo art fair representing AMC (Archive of Modern Conflict) , an English publisher of photobooks that I met in Mexico. When I returned from my trip they called me to invite me to participate with the books we had published with Croma Editorial. Still, instead of participating with just a few titles, I proposed to set up the table with several self-published photobooks or published by independent publishers. At that time, I knew of many people who were publishing their photobooks in Colombia but did not have a publisher or a distributor to represent them.

That was the origin of Aquí y Allá, which, in principle, was a short name I chose to participate in that fair and to disassociate myself from processes/projects in which I had participated before. But it’s also a play on words that represents my experience of searching and experimenting in one place and another.

A cloud above me – Alejandra Arevalo
Donde la luna es vertical – Laura Salazar

So, is this a photobook dissemination project?

We also make photo books, but we are not in a hurry to publish them. At the ArtBo Editorial Encounters, I began to understand publishing and the editorial field differently, which made me reflect on the dynamics of dissemination and socialization of photobooks within the Colombian photographic guild. There is a vital component of the photobook, and it is that people generally believe that it is to make, publish, and that’s it. Still, after that chain of creation, there is the distribution, selling it, moving it, putting it to participate in fairs… Many authors do not get there.

Since its creation, Aquí y Allá has participated in book fairs such as Singapore Art Book Fair, Macizo, La Vuelta, and ArtBo. We have been invited to talk at PUB Sandberg- Amsterdam, Bronx Documentary Center-New York, and the Museo Miguel Angel Urrutia (MaMu)- in Bogota. We have also distributed books by Colombian authors to book stores such as NADA, Más Allá in Puebla, and La Hydra in Mexico City.

In addition to disseminating, selling, and making photo books, we have created workshops with the participation of authors, designers, and artists such as Juan Orrantia, Eduardo Arias, José Ruíz, and Arturo Salazar. With the latter two we recently collaborated in the Archive and Photobook Workshop “Un Supuesto Fotográfico” that accompanied the exhibition “Un Supuesto fotográfico, The Family of Man in Bogotá” curated by Ediciones Réplica at Espacio El Dorado.

Extrañezas- Aquí y Allá – Zully Sotelo

What would be the requirements for a photobook to be in Aquí y allá?

We look for projects around reflective, historical, and intimate discourses. Rigorous research and theory of the themes applied to the materialization of the book is a requirement that we find fascinating. I like to accompany authors who are not as well known or not yet established. We look for projects where we can nurture the processes and help them launch into the abyss.

Some of the attendees of our workshops have already published their projects independently. This makes us very happy because they are like adopted children that we carry with affection from one place to another. “Where The Moon Is Vertical” by Laura Salazar, “The Largest Body After the Universe Itself” by Francisca Jiménez, and “A Cloud Above Me” by Alejandra Arévalo are some examples, and we hope more will come out.

Here we are, see you there!