The initial conception of the project “Cadernos da Limia” (Limia’s Sketchbook) starts timidly at the end of 2017 as an idea to be developed in the course of Landscape. 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 region is shaped 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 profaned by the greed of the mining industry, a water imbalance that stings the consciences of its inhabitants and a memory that becomes thinner 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 that resulted in a landscape project that I thought was the right title: “Cadernos da Limia: apuntes dunha lagoa ausente” (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, experiences and feelings of this journey of initiation to the withered heart of the Limia. Landscape, identity and memory flow hand in hand through this failed territory, theatre of developmental political operations and scene of a tragic episode of colonization whose consequences could well be catalogued as genocidal, since 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” runs through landscapes where nostalgia for lost paradise and despair for a threatened future were installed. Territories mistreated by the deceitful illusion that a better life is only 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 characters 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 Upper Limia. At the end of 2018 I began the phases of documentation, research and production, 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 where memory, reality and feelings meet, it is not always easy to get rid of the prejudices or suffocating ordinariness of the familiar, 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” (Limia’s Sketchbook: Intersections), conceived as a space for intellectual exploration and an opportunity for collaboration with artists from other disciplines.

In the biographies of many Limians there are chapters written on emigration, lived by themselves or by a family member. The family archives treasure old photographs, letters and postcards sent from some corner of the world, with brief messages written from the distance and nostalgia, which become a useful instrument to invoke and interpret this sentimental landscape. Photographs carrying a visual and written message in which the migrant, in addition to reassuring his family and friends about his well-being, ensure the emotional bond with those who remained in the homeland.

Compiling and incorporating this archival material into the third part of the project has become a valuable instrument with which the community can not only revitalize the memory of events that are already beginning to become blurred and faded, but also create a space for reflection on current events in which “the other” is the protagonist. We all were, are or will be emigrants.

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 invested.


In fanzine format, I have organized some of the archival photographs collected during the survey into an online publication. A visual interpretation based on the material itself accompanies the front and back of each photograph.


Assessment criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

First of all, it seemed appropriate to me to propose the assigment as an extension of the general project I have been working on since 2017, so that the latter could benefit from the contents relating to the archive acquired in this unit, and that the result of the assigment was added to my portfolio.

Since the issue of emigration affects me personally – as the son of emigrants that I am – and considering that in my own archive I had some photographic material obtained by my parents in Venezuela, I wondered how I could relate these photographs taken by Galician emigrants from abroad with the general project. Reviewing the archives of some people from Limia who lived a similar emigration experience, I observed that it was usual for the emigrant to send photographs to their relatives and friends in Spain with some handwritten note on the back.

Through the social networks and contacts I have in the region, I organized a compilation of photographs sent by Limian emigrants from abroad that had some annotation on the back. Although the answer was discreet and difficult to materialize in some cases, I did get enough material to shape the assignment.

Being originals of unquestionable value to their owners, I was not allowed to work directly on the materials, so I used a professional scanner to make digital copies of them.

Facebook Request for Archive Photographs


Quality of outcome

In the design of the book that accompanies the assignment I could have included exclusively the scanned images of the original photographs, accompanied by the English translation of the texts; nevertheless, it seemed interesting to me to propose a kind of digital intervention on each one of the selected photographs -which in some cases may be evident and in others perhaps not so much-, which helps to reduce the temporal distance that separates the time of the photograph from the current moment.

The migratory phenomenon that occurred massively in the first half of the last century in Spain did not have the dramatic character that accompanies the great migrations of today. For this reason, I did not find it offensive to use some ironic elements in some of the digital interventions, without this meaning, under any circumstances, to try to trivialise the subject. By doing this, perhaps the question of emigration in those times is de-dramatised, which, due to the images selected, did not seem to represent a particularly tragic moment in the biography of those people, who seem to enjoy a bearable existence. Nevertheless, the Galician emigrant has always suffered the devastating and melancholic effects of nostalgia, perhaps more appreciable in the texts than in the images.

I have incorporated different elements in the interventions: repetitions, transformations, rotations, cut-outs, combinations with external elements or with the text itself, colour as an envelope, design and placement of the elements on the page or manipulation of the image itself.

A few weeks ago, the entire project “Cadernos da Limia” was selected as a finalist for a Contemporary Photography Scholarship held in the city of Porto (Portugal) where I had to show the jury a portfolio that included an example of each of the sections into which the work is divided. Although the fanzine was not shown, the idea of complementing the project with archive material was positively valued.

Presentation of Limia’s Sketchbook at the IPCI-Institute of Cultural Production and Image of Porto


Demonstration of creativity

Undoubtedly, the most important milestone of this course module has been the discovery of the archive as a creative resource and the reuse/recycling of these materials in what Schmid would call visual ecology. Moreover, in the times of digital/virtual photography, looking at the traditional archive allows one to guess the added value of the materiality itself of the photographs stored in it.

From the outset, I considered it appropriate to point out the circumstance that the photographic object itself is simultaneously a carrier of visual information -both on the front and on the back- and of textual content. Including both and showing the limits of photography, its materiality, seemed to me to be an inexcusable option. For this reason, in the first experiments, I considered re-photographing the photographs using a kind of light box, which although it solved the problems of homogeneous illumination and parallelism of the edges of the photographs, in practice it required the photographs to be physically available in the studio, something that was impossible in some cases and had to be scanned for some of my collaborators on place.

Lightbox to re-photograph pictures

For the design of Blurb’s book I decided to give a certain dynamism to the pages, avoiding using the same template or scheme repeatedly. Each double page is dedicated to a photograph and its intervention, but on two occasions I used another double page to present the intervened image. As far as possible I used a simple and clean design, including exclusively a reference to the place where the photograph comes from and the English translation of the texts on the back.

The use of social networks and local collaborators to collect/scan the photographs in-situ -I live 130 km from Limia- was useful to generate confidence in the owners and to speed up the process of collecting the material.



The catalogue of the exhibition “The Lost Art of the Picture Library” (2008) has been a direct influence on the development of this assignment. In this exhibition, photographs of The Guardian’s collection were shown, showing the back of each photograph where the archive notes can be read. By courtesy of the curator, Luke Dodd of the exhibition I got a copy.

The Lost Art of the Picture Library (2008)

The interaction with Jef Gey’s archive in “Day and Night Day and…”, where he structures the images in a kind of chronotype that simulates the passage of time has suggested to me the deliberate intervention of the images to provoke a temporary misplacement of the referent when the spectator contemplates the images.

jefgey-day and night and day and
Jef Gey: Day and Night and Day and… (2002)

There is an explicit reference, though nicer in this case, to Race Riot by Andy Warhol:

Andy Warhol-Race Riot
Andy Warhol – Race Riot

Finally, the project “Settling: Exploring the human migration” by the British photographer Sam Ivin developed in collaboration with the residents of the city of Stoke-on-Trent (UK) has been an inspiration.

Val Bansal’s Father, Baldev Bansal, holding a baby, Stoke-on-Trent, 1964.



Settling; Exploring Human Migration

Andy Warhol – Race Riots:

Jef Gey: Day and Night and Day and…