Daniela Spector

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Daniela Spector (b. 1988) was raised in Miami, where she went to the Art Institute for photography. In 2013 she moved to New York with an ill-fitted coat and the right amount of naivety. Currently, she lives in Long Island City with her partner and loaf-shaped dog. Her focus is portraiture and documentary photography, searching for playful but tender moments. 

My work, specifically my ongoing project “I Forbid You to Forget Me,” is an ode to my mother, Ermelinda Flores. She was born in Puerto Rico in 1954 and moved to New York in the 70s. She joined the political theater group Teatro Cuatro, where she met my aunt and eventually my father. In the 90s, they moved to Miami with my sister and me in tow. She led a life of service as a social worker and then as a sign language interpreter. In the mid-2000s, she developed an autoimmune disease, neurosarcoidosis, that robbed her of her independence and vitality. 

After she died in 2019, I sifted through what she left behind, and out of a compulsive need to maintain a connection, I began photographing her things on the floor of my childhood bedroom. It was through this process that I truly learned about my mother. In retrospect, it mirrors an archaeological perspective. As if someone was excavating her life for study. During my excavation, I found an image of my mother that she captioned, “Te prohíbo que me olvides.” Since that first year, I’ve been attempting to add context and weight to the project. This series investigates grief and its relationship to a loved one’s physical and digital legacy. 

Daniela Spector. I Forbid You to Forget Me, 2020. Photo collage, 11.9" x 11.9". Photograph courtesy of the artist.