The images included in the first assignment are part of an artistic project that I develop in parallel to this course, and whose motivations I explain in a text that is attached below. This project was born during the course of the Landscape module, in the fifth unit “Resolution”, and at that time, it really meant the logical consequence of a journey that seemed to be destined for and that landscape photography allowed me to make.
From landscape to portrait and from portrait to experimentation and manipulation at the beginning of this new module. Some of the examples can be seen in the exercises in unit one. From the collaboration with the British artist Lotta Ellis arises the possibility of manipulating a series of landscapes of the Limia with her paintings, which I knew previously and of which I was especially interested in that kind of invented writing so characteristic of her work. We began with the digital intervention, from her re-photographed work, which I later incorporated into the landscapes using Photoshop. At the request of the “Author’s Copies” printing laboratory, we decided to send Lotta a sample of photographic copies printed on different kinds of paper for testing to determine which was the most suitable for the painting materials that she uses.
This week I have just received the materials and the results are really promising, and we have been able to see how the inks behave on each type of paper. A new stage is now opening which we will develop over the coming months. Although I had collaborated with other artists before, I had never done so with a plastic artist who acts and directly alters my images, giving them a new and fascinating meaning. Lotta perfectly understood the scope of the project and the collaboration could not be more fluid despite the inconvenience of distance.
LIMIA’S SKETCHBOOK – STATEMENT
The initial conception of the project “Cadernos da Limia” starts timidly at the end of 2017. At this time I revisited the region of Limia (Ourense, Galicia) after a significant absence of more than 40 years and the portrait of a person in the village of Baronzás (Ourense, Spain) activated some hidden mechanism of memory, which since then has sought traces of a forgotten identity through landscape, people, language and ideas.
The history of the Limia is marked by an atrocious scar that has deeply torn this land: the desiccation of the Antela Lagoon in the 1960s, of which there are only a few vague vestiges desecrated by the greed of the mining industry, a water imbalance that stings the consciences of its inhabitants and a memory that becomes more scarce and blurred with the passing of years and lives. In the summer of 2018 I began a journey through these sandy and dry territories, looking for the emotional trace of the disappeared lagoon, which resulted in a landscape project that I thought was the right title: “Limia’s Sketchbook: Notes about an absent lagoon“, since it was intended to be a field notebook in which I would write down the experiences and feelings of this initiation journey to the withered heart of Limia. Landscape, identity and memory flow hand in hand through this failed territory, theatre of development policy operations and stage of a tragic episode of colonization whose consequences could well be catalogued as genocidal, as erasing the landscape not only caused serious environmental damage, but also eradicated the identity and way of life of a people who lived and felt the lagoon.
This harsh account of the “Cadernos da Limia” (Limia’s Sketchbook) runs through landscapes where nostalgia for lost paradise and despair for a threatened future were installed. Territories mistreated by the deceptive illusion that only a better life is possible in the cities and that has condemned the rural to the slow agony of abandonment and depopulation. I felt the need to inhabit those barren landscapes and conceived the idea of a second part in which I would map the human geography of the Limia. Without trying to create a typology of illustrious personages or a gallery of characters, my intention was to draw a fresco that represents the richness of nuances and contrasts that shape the social, cultural and economic reality of Alta Limia. At the end of 2018 I started the documentation, research and production phases, and since the beginning of 2019 I am developing the project in which I hope to work for an approximate period of two years, and which I have provisionally called “Cadernos da Limia: Civitas Limicorum“.
At this crossroads of memory, reality and feelings, it is not always easy to get rid of the prejudices or the suffocating daily life of the known, so I felt it necessary to propose an alternative discourse in which, for example, I could incorporate archival materials or resort to the intervention of other plastic disciplines to project new ideas and debates beyond the realm of visual immediacy. Under this premise, and still in the experimental phase, the third part of the project is the “Cadernos da Limia: Intersecciones“, conceived as a space for intellectual exploration and an opportunity for collaboration with artists from other disciplines.
Although there is an emotional link that connects me to the Limia, I am still an outsider who looks out on the window of the rural world with a certain bitterness as in our fortresses of cement and asphalt we have stopped feeling the beat of the Earth, which in each place beats with the specific rhythm of its language, culture and traditions.
It is naïve to think that photography has some capacity to change the world, but it can be a legitimate vehicle to propose reflections on universal issues or to channel our commitment to the reality that by destiny, chance or vocation we have to face. I consider that the “Cadernos da Limia” can be a useful tool to propose social dynamics that stimulate the debate on the Galician rural life and its value, not only economic, but also as the last and authentic bastion of our cultural heritage. To abandon the liturgy of the white cube, to renounce the quota of vanity and for society to receive a cultural return from this project, would more than justify the efforts employed.
These “Cadernos da Limia” also have some personal search, a way of illuminating some of the shadows of my biography -which in the photographic field is as brief as it is insignificant-, as well as an urgent need to recover the silence of all those years in which “I simply had nothing to say”.