Cemeteries

Cemeteries

Cementiri de Poblenou, Barcelona, 2003.
Cementiri de Poblenou, Barcelona, 2003.
Cementiri de Poblenou, Barcelona, 2003.

“Like many beginning photographers, I took some of my first pictures in cemeteries. But as my photography became more sophisticated, cemeteries joined railroad tracks, abandoned buildings, and sunsets on the list of forbidden clichés. Discussing this with my photographer friends Ed Panar and Melissa Catanese in Pittsburgh, Ed told me he still regularly photographs in cemeteries. ‘Ed is so not cynical,’ Melissa said, ‘the idea that something is cliché just doesn’t occur to him. He doesn’t have a cynical gene in him.’ Ed is the single happiest photographer I’ve ever met. Wanting a little bit of that to rub off on me, I asked him if he’d take me to a cemetery. It was nearly sunset, and helped me to a bluffside cemetery near his home. He pointed to a particular spot where he’s made a number of pictures. I couldn’t imagine photographing in the same spot. Everything was too spectacular. But after setting up my camera and looking through the ground glass, I realised why Ed was so happy.”

– Alec Soth, as quoted in Photo-No-Nos: Meditations on What Not to Photograph (2021) by Jason Fulford.

The evidence was all around us

The evidence was all around us

Manresa, 2010

“Coming of age in the heyday of punk, it was clear we were living at the end of something – of modernism, of the American dream, of the industrial economy, of a certain kind of urbanism. The evidence was all around us in the ruins of the cities… Urban ruins were the emblematic places for this era, the places that gave punk part of its aesthetic, and like most aesthetics this one contained an ethic, a worldview with a mandate on how to act, how to live… A city is built to resemble a conscious mind, a network that can calculate, administrate, manufacture. Ruins become the unconscious of a city, its memory, unknown, darkness, lost lands, and in this truly bring it to life… An urban ruin is a place that has fallen outside the economic life of the city, and it is in some way an ideal home for the art that also falls outside the ordinary production and consumption of the city.”

– Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, 2006 (via Landscape Stories)

Fiiiirst: A photographic discussion with Hilde Honerud

Fiiiirst: A photographic discussion with Hilde Honerud

Fiiiirst is an online gallery, created by french-canadian photographer Guillaume Tomasi in 2016. According to its very own description: “Every month, two photographers are invited to interact through an image-based discussion. To keep this dialog without a pre-formated vision, they don’t know with whom they interact with. The identities of each author are kept secret until the end of their respective discussion. Each picture produced is used as an inspiration to create the next one. The authors have been chosen on the basis on their career, their photographic direction and their savoir-faire to document an artistic vision”.

I’ve recently had the pleasure to be featured, along with Hilde Honerud from Konsberg, Norway, in Fiiiirst’s 60th discussion. It’s been a great experience, both fun and challenging. You can view the results here. I also reccomend you to have a look at all the conversations that have been published so far, which include works from photographers such as Eugeni Gay Marín, JM Ramírez Suassi, Jenny Riffle and Jamie Hladky, among others.

Landscapes are stories

Landscapes are stories

Abrucena, 2013

“Q: How can the medium of landscape imagery be used to tell stories?

A: Landscapes are stories, we just need to learn how to read them. And there are many, many stories – waiting for someone to come along, and give shape to them and find an appropriate means to tell them. Part of the fascination for me is allowing a place to reveal a complex web of narratives, through a slow and patient engagement, and as it does so I am struggling to find a form, a structure, with which to articulate some of what I have found. My works always bring texts together with the pictures – captions, short stories, essays, lists – which is a reason why books are such a rich way to bring study together.”

– Jem Southam, in an interview with Drake’s.

As I became invisible

As I became invisible

New York, 2011.

“You see, ten years ago when I first came to the city, I had a job on the West Side as a pushcart vendor. In order to get my license, I was told to go to a certain municipal office, to approach a particular window and to pay a small bribe to a teller.

On most days, I would roll the cart from a parking garage to the same spot on Ninth Avenue, near the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel. I sold roasted peanuts and sodas in front of a discount electronics store and a used furniture outlet. Sometimes I was sent to other locations depending on the weather, or on other vendors, or on factors I didn’t understand. But mostly I parked in that same spot. And for a while that patch of sidewalk became my own.

I sold peanuts, I stood behind my cart and, after a few weeks went by, I became a fixture to some. And to others I became increasingly invisible. I discovered that simply by standing behind the cart and selling, I had put up both a wall and a window from which I could watch what happened on the street, on the block, on that long corridor of businesses and passers-by. And as I became invisible, I started to see things that had once been invisible to me.”

– Jem Cohen, Lost Book Found, 1996.

Beginnings

Begginings

Chicago, 2015 (diptych)

“Get out now. Not just outside, but beyond of the programmed electronic age so gently closing around so many people at the end of our century. Go outside, move deliberately, then relax, slow down, look around. Do not jog. Do not run. Forget about blood pressure and arthritis, cardiovascular rejuvenation and weight reduction. Instead pay attention to everything that abuts the rural road, the city street, the suburban boulevard. Walk. Stroll. Saunter. Ride a bike, and coast along a lot. Explore.

Abandon, even momentarily, the sleek modern technology that consumes so much time and money now, and seek out the resting place of a technology almost forgotten. Go outside and walk a bit, long enough to take in and record new surroundings.

Flex the mind, a little at first, then a lot. Savor something special. Enjoy the best-kept secret around – the ordinary, everyday landscape that rewards any explorer, that touches any explorer with magic.

The whole concatenation of wild and artificial things, the natural ecosystem as modified by people over the centuries, the built environment layered over layers, the eerie mix of sounds and smells and glimpses neither natural nor crafted – all of it is free for the taking, the taking in. Take it in, take it in, take in more every weekend, every day, and quickly it becomes the theater that intrigues, relaxes, fascinates, seduces, and above all expands any mind focused on it. Outside lies utterly ordinary space open to any casual explorer willing to find the extraordinary. Outside lies unprogrammed awareness that at times becomes directed serendipity. Outside lies magic.”

– John R. Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places, 1998.