In The Adventures of Guille and Belinda: And the Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams, Alessandra Sanguinetti documents the lives of two Argentinian cousins, Guille and Belinda. It is a beautiful book filled with Sanguinetti's beautiful pictures; images that emerge out of the fantasy, imagination and dream-life of the two girls, but with a power which comes from the harsh realities that lie beneath the fantastic veneer.
The girls role-play their way through the book; cocktail parties, dances, weddings and funerals all play a part. Death, both real and imagined, haunts their fantasy life. In 'Revolver,' Belinda shoots Guille execution style as Guille pleads for mercy. In 'Puddle Suicide,' it's Belinda who dies, shooting herself in the head while Guille stands in judgement beside her. In 'Ophelias,' both the girls die, their bodies floating gracefully through the weed-strewn waters. Pictures featuring the death of Jesus, a butchered cow, a dead opossum, lilies and a funeral play add to the mood of mortality.
If death is ever present, so is life. The tedium of the everyday gives way to rehearsals of marriage and pregnancy. This may be an imagined world but it is a fecund one, a life not far from that which the girls are going to lead. The themes of mortality are a progression from Sanguinetti's earlier animal-focused work, and reveal the influences, incidental or otherwise, of the art historical, as well as photographers such as Nan Goldin, Sally Mann and Wendy Ewald.
We see the closeness of the two cousins in 'The Black Cloud,' their bodies entwined as they watch the gathering storm. But we also see the way their lives will digress, as the large-bodied Guille comes up against barriers that Belinda will never have. The physicality of childhood is ever present in the fleshiness of Guille and the loose-limbed nimbleness of Belinda, and perhaps it is this strange coupling that helps make their adventures so compelling, a mix of fantasy, imagination bound by the flesh and bone of the main protagonists.
Colin Pantall is a photographer, writer and teacher based in Bath. His photography and writing have been shown and published in North America, Europe and Asia. More thoughts of Colin Pantall can be found at Colin Pantall's blog ( http://colinpantall.blogspot.com/ ).