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Photography (MA)

Eli Pimentel

I am a documentary photographer from the Dominican Republic. I also work as an economist (BA, MPA, MSc) on policy issues concerning human development and material and physical security. Some time ago, I turned to philosophy (PhD) to think on what fuels the underbelly of human intelligence and disposition.

My most important photographic subject is the person – we have such vulnerable and brief lives. How we live, our choices, how we act – these are urgent matters for there is much that would disassociate us from others if we allow it.  I like to capture moments of desperate optimism – of tempered resilience – that give substance to otherwise dispassionate considerations of what it might mean to be in a world in which what is hoped for has been radically altered by absurd yet entrenched notions of how we are expected to be. My photographic practice is inclined towards the things we hold in common: our susceptibility for wonder; an innate curiosity of the planet and all things in it; a desire for some measure of immortality, and more humbly, a longing for being seen as we go about in the world.

My latest projects give visibility to the work of social reproduction – whether in the raising of children, in social care or in the nursing profession – as essential to human wellbeing. The works presented here are inspired by social protest movements - of people becoming memory through political acts of solidarity and amity that give material presence to the work of care and social reproduction - a lifetime of labour which disappears with each passing moment, and that few get to see. This work is qualified as ‘free’, or as low-wage, low-skilled labour and does not feature as economically productive within national accounts of the measure of the market value of all goods and services, even though it is indispensable to the running of the economy.

The images featured here were shot on black and white 35mm film in October 2022 on Parliament Square, London. The March of the Mummies saw parents and carers protesting on the basis that tax allocations and social safety nets - including subsidised quality early-years care and education –  should reflect the needs of society as a whole.

Images possess a unique way of making the world sensible. What we see – and feel through what we see – has a way of making things innate without our being aware of them. Our consciousness of them is bound by the nature of the thingness of the image  - a textural, spatial and affective quality – that reveals our presence in the world is substantial though we may just be hints of flesh. Each person has a fundamental project of being, a project I relate to a journey bound up with the joys and trials of others.

Gypsum cast of a cleaning glove with detached fingers on tissue paper

Making darkroom prints evolved into casting photo objects and pithy sculptures made from thread, repurposed and re-cast functional objects. Subversive and craft-y, their ‘by hand’ quality displaces them from the private space of the domestic into a space of alterity in the hopes of drawing the viewer’s attention to the ways one can be influenced by habituated expectations of the objects featured here, and to the mechanics of such representation.

Signs of Protest

There is privilege in capturing people's private struggles and elation in witnessing that energy growing into collective outcries against the way the world is institutionalised. I realised that those struggles are embedded in the signs they carry, simple objects of words and symbols charged with hope, tenderness and defiance.

Something about the hand-crafted aesthetic of the signs – the probing nature of the text, the resigned humour – calls up feminist slogans from the previous generation and surprise us being in a world too stubborn to acknowledge the significance of creating and nurturing life. What is the worth of such labour?

Protest posters are the product of ideas, of an etiquette that governs their formation, their materiality, the space they occupy and the functions they serve. As objects, they possess solidity. My concern became one of concretising these concerns, of setting down conversations that commemorate the universality of the human experience of struggle.

Dislodging the Opacity of Objects

The tradition of making by hand indicates a visceral awareness of the limits of the body – how weight and form relate to the size of a limb, the look of a truncated torso, or a defeated monumental sad iron. Cast from life, the objects coax us from the comfort of routine into a newly imagined world of things. As long as objects fulfil their role, the past is able to confirm the present: invention and creativity are best left to the authority of cultural direction, thus representing life as a matter of repetition and not of invention, to prevent us hurtling towards the unknown.

Objects are the facts of us. Looking through objects – an exercise in discharging them from what one believes they convey, or how they ought to function – forces them to reveal what they do. A book that disturbs and makes one wish it had not been read; a lumpy mattress that leaves the frazzled sleeper miserable in the morning; food poisoning: these encounters with thingness are instantiations of an experience with objects, whose purpose has been checked and thwarted by something that provokes the unexpected. This implies the thing itself is an ambiguity. ‘What is that thing?’ is a common reaction to something our understanding or sensibility cannot quite grasp.

Objects are concrete, opaque, full of purpose. That is, until their essence or thingness checks its function. Things can be resolvable or remain a source of speculation. In a sense, then, ideas are projected onto the object, but an encounter with things is an event. What makes an object intolerable is that it is a thing and not a thing, simultaneously an object deprived of purpose, indefinable, but still there, exposing an underbelly where forms and words lose clarity and delight in contradictions.

Photo of man and baby
Bikini Kill35 mm Washi F silver gelatin
Image of a family hugging
Sanctuary35 mm Washi F silver gelatin
Young boy with protest sign
Ennui35 mm Washi D, digital print
A group of friends and babies in front of the Houses of Parliament
A Sinking Feeling35 mm Washi F, digital print on rice paper
Mother feeding baby holding protest sign
Invest in the future35 mm Fomapan, digital print
Mother and child at a protest
Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History35 mm Fomapan, digital print
Parents on Parliament Square stroller with protest sign attached
The future won't raise itself35 mm Washi F, digital print
Woman in a witch costume holding a sign Trafalgar Square
A Mother's Right to Work - Established 197535 mm Lady Grey, digital print




8x10 in
Photogram, 35 mm film negative on fibre-based photographic paper, social protest, mother changing nappies
Nappy Change IMarch of the Mummies, Parliament Square, London. 35 mm negatives on fibre-based photographic paper
Photogram dolly dress made from translucent paper, bleached
Dolly PhotogramTranslucent paper on on matte photographic paper
Silk thread embroidery on fibre-based photographic paper
My world became the size of a babySilk thread embroidery on photo emulsion covered translucent paper. The text comes from a short story by Catherine Ballard and Hilary Hackett featured in the Spare Rib Magazine Reader (1984)
Photogram on fibre-based paper, image from silk thread embroidery, washi paper Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History
Well Behaved Women Seldom Make HistorySilk thread embroidery on fibre-based photographic paper. The original words are from an essay by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (1976) which explores how and why women who act in unconventional ways tend to be remembered.


Darkroom photography


6x4 inches
Chromoskedasic Sabatier silver gelatin print man social protest movement crowds
Chromoskedasic Sabatier silver gelatin print man social protest movement crowds
Untitled II
Chromoskedasic Sabatier silver gelatin print woman in super hero costume social protest movement crowds
Chromoskedasic Sabatier silver gelatin print woman in super hero costume social protest movement crowds
Untitled IV


Darkroom photography - Chromoskedasic painting


5x7 in
Pomegranate from wool fibre, wire, thread and live pomegranate plant
El ConocimientoWool fibre, wire, thread and live pomegranate plant
Headless baby shape made from papier-mâché in front of a dolly dress made of latex, vintage wooden door and metal slats
Dolly Baby Papier-mâché baby; latex dress
Cleaning glove cast in gypsum and latex rubber detached fingers floating
IndefatigableCleaning glove cast in gypsum, latex rubber
Ostrich egg, mirror, image, protest photo
Half-shellA mirrored image of a protest poster captured by coating an ostrich eggshell in photo emulsion


Egg from eggshells, alginate, wire, thread, palmyra and yellow ostrich feathers
EvaEva is made from ostrich feathers, eggshells and natural bassine bristles
Egg carton, folded, from latex rubber
OvoidsEgg carton made from latex rubber
Egg from paper pulp, aluminium wire, broom ends and thread
Adán Detail of Adam's yolk made of plastic broom bristles, wool thread and aluminium wire
Embossed paper, collograph
Who came first?Embossed collograph on wood


Chicken laying an egg alongside etching of a protest poster
A mother's right to workAquatint, hard ground etching on zinc 6x6 in
Image of cows alongside etching of a protest poster
Don't be a titAquatint, soft ground etching on zinc 6x6 in
Image of family hugging on paper
SanctuarySilkscreen print
Outlines of iron and dolly dresses on paper
Dolly dresses IMonoprint on silkscreen background
Etching of a brain
La MandonaMeaning the boss, or bossy Drypoint etching on plasticised carton


Etching and printmaking
Cotton muslin, embroidery, steel and wool thread, rice paper
Dolores y ConsueloIn Spanish the words for pain (suffering or sorrows) and Consuelo (solace) refer to the Virgin Mary, or Our Lady of Sorrows
Cotton muslin, embroidery, steel and wool thread, rice paper
Encarnación y MilagrosEncarnación (incarnation) refers to the Virgin Mary and the miracle (Milagros) of the immaculate conception
Cotton muslin, embroidery, steel and wool thread, rice paper
Inmaculada y ConcepciónIn Spanish these names refer to the Virgin Mary and the immaculate conception
Cotton muslin, embroidery, steel and wool thread, rice paper
Virginia y PuraCotton muslin, embroidery, steel and wool thread, rice paper knickers