Today I wanted to talk about the world going into pieces. Not because of the most expensive royal marriage ever, nor because of yet another bloody shooting in f. Texas, but because of my intention to make a review of a transcript of a photographer's speech (Garry Winogrand) on the work of his fellow photographers (Davidson's "garbage", Frank's lessons …) and of his own. How pathetic this would be? (*)
That's why I have changed my mind and I will present you a picture, among many, of the work of Marco Giusfredi (aka Guy le Guiff) on this subject. What subject? What else?
It's enough to have a peek in his cover photos album or just google it, flickr it, IG it, and there they will pop out, permanently self-conscious, casually sophisticated, looking over and through you at the same time. "Women are beautiful" … in Paris too, with an Italian twist "Siamo così, dolcemente complicate, Sempre più emozionate, delicate"
I am curating pictures of his since 2015 but I've only met Marco in an elevator during the Brussels Street Photography Festival last year. We only exchanged a couple of words. It couldn't be otherwise. A worker of photography takes pictures, (s)he doesn't do small talk.
Marco is for Paris what Garry was for New York. An obsessive "hammer and saw" photographing a female population in continuous ebullition.
Garry was a NewYorker, Marco is *not* a Parisien, proof that "Italians do it better".
(*) Nevertheless I will stick to a couple of Garry's phrases:
"A hammer, a saw, a piece of time and space. That’s what a photograph is, nothing else. Alright?"
"It’s a funny business. It’s a compulsion. I wind up, I’m weak, you know, if I see an attractive woman, I'll try to take a picture."
Back in the 70's during a logorrheic speech, G. Winogrand nailed a good one: "The photograph has to be more dramatic than what has been photographed. It's all about drama or nothing!"
Not poetic? Poetry has to be dramatic!
Not narrative? Narration has to be dramatic!
Now, how that works? Can it be constructed? Yes, but the joggling with the documentary authority of the picture should be extremely subtile. As soon as the viewers are confronted with a subjective (staged) picture they lose their interest in resolving any ambiguities present.
The transformation(s) of the content(s) are still there but the need to untangle the puzzling elements disappears.
Nevertheless, the pictures presented here are powerful enough to stand both ways.
The question is: which one is closer to the thin line between objectivity and subjectivity? Which one maintains the documentary authority of an otherwise mechanical process condemned to change into something meaningful or die?
Because mechanical it is (chemical stands no more).
"I’m an eye. A mechanical eye. I, the machine, show you a world the way only I can see it. ! free myself for today and forever from human immobility. I’m in constant movement. I approach and pull away from objects, I creep under them. I move alongside a running horse’s mouth, I fall and rise with the falling and rising bodies. This is I, the machine, manoeuvring in the chaotic movements, recording one movement after another in the most complex combinations, Freed from the boundaries of time and space, I co-ordinate any and all points of the universe, wherever I want them to be. My way leads towards the creation of a fresh perception of the world. Thus I explain in a new way the world unknown to you." - Dziga Vertov, Soviet film director, 1923
"An educated critic should have known the author of the painting." I said to myself.
"Unless it is not a famous one and the painting is only there as the result of a family portrait, another vestige of yet another dethroned aristocrat", was my second thought.
As I am not one of the former, an image search would have helped. "No results! Best guess for this image: crowd!"
Time to ask for a higher resolution of the picture to decipher the mystery. Or should I?
"No need!" I have concluded. Martin got me! In the frame, in the frame of the frame, in the mystery of a mystery, in the secret of a secret.
"Truth is not objectivity, authenticity can stand without veracity" they say. And yet this image beats any logical conclusion drawn from essays on representations in art. It beats any aesthetic argument based on which we may explain (partially by default) its impact.
Because, dear readers, the painting just flowed out and recreated a room where only the blue shirt stayed in place. Even the "obvious" keeper denies her role through her posture.
Everything switches continuously back and forth. The lady into a girl, the walls into screens, the mouldings into puzzle pieces, the floor into Aladdin's magic carpet.
Sometimes (if not always) we should not try to explain nor talk about principles or aesthetics, but this time, for sure.
The image is a cry out: "Purists keep out, pure viewers welcome and step in!"
Do we dream in colour or in B&W?
Backspace, rephrase this! Do we daydream in complementary colours?
And by mentioning complementary I am not referring to the colour theory. Because in theory, complementary colours, when put together they cancel each other out, when put side by side they create the greatest of the clashes.
Close enough but not my idea! The complementary colours I am referring to, are the ones we daydream in. The ones that are carefully hidden from the others, never revealing their and our secrets. And ultimately creating the greatest paradoxes.
People shoot in B&W and with a great dexterity. Iris is one of them. But why? The "why" is the most important question to be answered in photography, in any single image. Why a photograph has been taken? And then, why it has been taken in B&W? Or better, why it has been stripped down to some greys? Superbly rendered, without doubt, but still greys.
I don't have the answer, I can only wonder and ask more questions. This is what I do. And here are my wondering and wandering thoughts.
The photographers that shoot, edit or interpret in B&W are full of colours. But they know by hard experience that these very colours are not seizable in their life time. They can be the destination but never the voyage, not for them.They can be a secret dream but cannot become reality, not for them. And what is bad for them can be good for us, the viewers. Their visual paralysis in front of colour, channels all their talent and energy towards the grey palette. If one day they will find and embrace colour when awake, nothing will be the same anymore.
The present picture, more than its original visual architecture (foreground used as a barrier or an observation point), its symbolic content (horse/freedom, river/life, man/solitude), it bears a powerful narration on rural whereabouts of today .
Imagine this same picture with earth tones, clay shades, dirty blue waters and dead green flora. It would be a betrayal to the eyes of the author. Because, that would be so remote from the secret colours never rendered on a film (or sensor). So remote from the:
"Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes"
Two things happened when I recently met a great photographer. Let's call him El Fotografo.
The first one was between him and me and we'll keep it this way. The second one was the answer to the question of the public: "Did you stage your iconic picture?"
He said: "How can someone think that I was able of ever imagining such a composition, setting or subjects?"
And yet, it is possible! You can have a dream and transpose it, to share it. You can have a nightmare and picture it, to transcend it. You can simply know what reality will look like after "visiting" it through a bi-dimensional rectangle. It's called vision, talent. And only a few possess it.
Most of us are only here to appreciate, analyse and understand these visual representations of screams, whispers, monologues and autistic gestures of triggering the diaphragm blades; of cutting the world, cutting the self. A blade cut will always bleed and the scar will persist long after the shutter release. Do you still call photography a mechanical process?
And do you still look for a subjective description of the present picture? No words will ever explain the author's skill to suspend reality and to abolish the invasive wealth of technology by simply ignoring it. If any of the shapes, subjects or objects would have offered their sharp details, we would have been probably missed the timid endeavour of the girl to step ahead, to free themselves and the observer at the same time.
Diane Arbus's twins, just left the scene still holding hands and Corneliu can project them to the present time with admirable dexterity.
This is the public curated Gallery of the STREET CORE PHOTOGRAPHY Group