5thoughts

 

OjodePez Photo Meeting Barcelona is an international photography meeting organised by La Fábrica and La Virreina Image Center inspired by OjodePez magazine.

The meeting aims to spark dialogue and debate between specialistsphotographers and participants with an interest in documentary photography.

photomeeting ojodepez

 

planet of apes

I reaffirmed this idea listening the master class of Joan Fontcuberta. He made an accurate reflection about the work in process of different artists that are exploring what, no more than a decade ago, was called a “copia disconforme”. In English would be something like not being agree with the result of a developed (film) photography, usually because of  a technical problem from the Laboratory. Fontcuberta used that analogy to present works where the lack of quality in the images was the main characteristic or the style of the projects. A good example is the Coca Cola campaign called “Let’s look at the world a little differently”

 

 

photomeeting ojodepez2

 

“Here is the funny thing about Photography. Sometimes, just occasionally, someone at the photograph look at the viewer and it works! And this is the case whether the look… looks! That’s the mystery of photography, that’s why I am so excited about being a photographer. You never quite know how you are gonna get a good picture.” Martin Parr

martin parr

 

And after listening that, I found myself with this photo (right) and of course, I shot it 😉

socks and sandals tribute

Martin Parr                                                                        Lena Prieto

 

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Who decides where the Magazine will be sold is the distributor not the Graphic Editors. These ones like Mauro Bedoni (COLORS), Erik Vroons (GUP), Andreas Müller Pohle (European Photography) or Arianna Rinaldo (Ojodepez), who know really well which is their target and have a great vision, don’t know where their printed editions are gonna be sold. Is so common though, that the potential customers ask where they can buy the new number and the editors just don’t know what to answer. That doesn’t make any sense to me if, after all that work defining which is their tendency or style, they can not even decide to offer the Magazine to the profile of customer who can be actually interested.  So, they not only  lose those customers who are already interested, but those ones who could be their new demand. Maybe it is just a symptom that the printed editions are in decline.

colors

COLORS Magazine

 

004PHOTOMEETING OJODEPEZ

 

I felt completely identify with Martin Kollar talking about his work in progress and his future projects. We are agree in the opinion that having a clear idea of what one wants to show is crucial to have a good result. One must knows what wants to show and visualize it somehow before to shoot it.

But that doesn’t mean that one knows clearly which the result will be. Furthermore, if  the result of your work is exactly the same as you imagined from the beginning, you probably have been limiting the creative process and also being dishonest with the reality you have been surrounded by. Is also a humble attitude to let the reality to surprise yourself more than to find in the reality whatever you want to defend in your work. Letting flow the view as who you are more than the mind following your ideas of what you want to get. This process is probably much more enriching, not just as a photographer but as a human being.

martin kollar

 

 

“My experience tells me that when I think in the next project is always different of what it’s gonna be. The next thing I am going to do is just imagination and it ends up being something different. I mean, I don’t know how is it for other people but to me is a very strange  combination between knowing perfectly what I want, how is gonna looks like and not really knowing what will be. What I do in the future is kind of correcting what I failed in the previous works. So is a kind of a continuation while I’m starting something new.” Martin Kollar

 

005

 

Maybe sounds obvious but I use to see a lot of people, include myself sometimes, trying to find THE PROJECT, THE IDEA. That thought that comes from outside. I mean, it is a result of wondering what the Magazines, The Contests, the buyers and the people in general is gonna like. What’s original or unseen. I really believe that this logic can works sometimes, but not in long term. Even talking about photojournalism (where ones must be loyal to the truth itself) one must  focus in something that makes vibrate oneself. In other words, the cause to make that “click” has to be meaningful for the photographer. Even shooting an empty white room.

Then I listen Stanislas Guigui and I find the answer. Basically, he doesn’t give a shit about what the public likes or not. At least, less than others. He somehow, is talking about himself. The empathy that he has with the subjects he photographs takes his documentary to another level. The way he looks and connect with them is authentic because is like the air he breathes, they both need each other.

guigui

Guigui shares life with the people who takes photos of. They are part of his life. He never disconnects. His photography is who he is. He is not even trying to change the world or anything that naif. He needs to give voice and visibility to the people who used to be labeled as “marginal or different”.

Following that idea, I remember another thought from Fontcuberta: to be a good photographer you must be an obsessed person, and follow that obsession to the limits of the illness. Then, doesn’t really matter if you are talking about gypsies in Romania or a pot with flowers. You’ll be at least, more interesting than the rest who are just “Trying to find”. You “have already found”. The extreme of that could be Diana Arbus, and I also think that sometimes, limits are good to be respected.

 

Check the comment of Stanislas Guigui 🙂

 

dancing without roof

“We are passionate creatures who belong anywhere else. This is exactly what we were meant to be and exactly what we were put in this Earth to do. And how fortunate it is that we were put all at the same place and at the same time with the same passionate vision.

There is no reason to do it and to not share it. Our art that we are creating was meant to be shared and to move people. And you really see it in our shows because people go and they allow themselves to turn off their phones and really surrendered themselves to what we are producing and giving to them. And then, afterwards… you see the tears and the emotions, and the creative ideas and the thoughts that are stimulated by our art. And the conversations that goes hours into the night because of….one movement! It’s incredible stuff. What we bring to the world is very unique. And I just feel so blessed to do it.”  – Meredith Strathmeyer, founder dancer of The Wonderbound

 

 

The enormous garage doors at the Wonderbound dance studio in Denver beg any curious passersby to glance through the glass panels.

Since moving to its new location in Five Points last year, the dance company has attracted the attention of many people in the neighborhood, including homeless people.

After seeing various exchanges between artistic organisations (RedLine Gallery and Wonderbound Studio)  and the homeless community I wanted to explore what happens if you mix both worlds.

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beneath the neon

I arrived in Las Vegas with a clear idea of what I was looking for. The dark side of the city, the underworld. Millions of tourists walk up and down the Las Vegas strip every year, looking to have fun and make some money. But beneath the flashing lights, there is a much darker side of the city. Underneath Sin City’s most famous casinos is a secret world: a labyrinth of tunnels that run for miles under the Las Vegas Valley. Built to protect the desert city from flash floods, the tunnels have become home to almost a thousand of homeless.

My first thought was “Who is the best guide that I can have about this subject?” and the answer was easy, Matthew O’Brien.

The next morning after meeting the journalist, I started following all his instructions by my self. I parked the car in front of the famous sign “Welcome to Fabulous LAS VEGAS”. Designed by Betty Willis and installed in 1959, the sign originally served as a beacon for tourists traveling from Southern California to Las Vegas on Highway 91 (also known as the Los Angeles Highway or as the Strip), is no longer the main road into Las Vegas; the main road is Interstate 15, which was completed in 1963.

sign

The annual passenger count at McCarran International Airport, which sits east of the sign, shot from 1 million in 1960 to 41 million in 2013. Bali Hai Golf Club sits west of the sign and two parallel tunnels are located below it, according Matt instructions. The left one it’s supposed to be empty, without people living in there. The right one is the spot where John lives, he has been living there for more than 3 years now.

It didn’t took me much time to discover the entrance of the tunnels. I was in front of the sign and I scurried across the Strip dodging speeding cars. I was the exception. Nobody else needs to do it since a car park was built just in front of the sign in 2008. Then, I passed around a metallic fence and there it was, the entrance of 200 miles of flood tunnels just in front of me. Also the house of a small proportion of the 14,000 homeless counted in Las Vegas. A city that offers barely 1,000 beds at the shelters.

“The police comes once a year to count us. They want us here cuz we don’t disturb them, we are the hidden side. And also cuz they get thousands of dollars from the Government to help us, haha… money that never arrives as you can see.” – John

out

The smell was a concentrated mix of urine and tobacco. I felt the tension in front of the unknown but a sensation of relief for being in the shade, was so hot at noon out there. A bunch of cigarettes, a lot of Bud ICE beer cans all around and a wheelchair welcomed me. Then, a man sleeping… – This must be John – I thought, and after a second of looking at him trying to don’t make any noise I remembered the advice that Matt gave me:

“Don’t surprise anyone down there. Imagine if somebody enter your home without warn you before. You need to let them know that you are there from a prudent distance.” – Matt

johnentrance

I obviously wasn’t in a prudent distance so I went back some steps and called his name few times until he moved. That was the beginning of 3 hours of a nice conversation walking through the tunnels and visiting the spots of his neighbors. A lot of graffities, writes and paints on the walls gave me an idea of the history in that place, the people who lived, their believes, ideology, feelings… their art.

“Two years ago this tunnel was full of people, even families with kids! They were the first ones to obtain social assistance. Do you see this? -pointing me the rabbets of the concrete pieces that form the tunnel.- They used it to hang some sheets in here so they had privacy, and a bed and all sorts of furniture, was pretty nice. Now only me and a couple that lives in the other entrance are left in this tunnel.”– John

The paint of a somebody pointing to the darkness -the nearest exit was in the opposite direction- captured all my attention. John just stopped close to me.

“Is pointing the course of the water. You never wanna swim against the water in case of flood, if so, you are done… even the other exit is farther, you wanna follow the watercourse. When the water comes is very dangerous, is only twice a year but can kill you so fast.” – John

paint

We passed through the Travis spot, one of John’s neighbors, while trying to figure out where to put my feet on the dark floor with the help of a flashlight and knocking down spider webs, hoping not to meet any of those poison ones famous in the place.

“Travis, the guy who was living here, is a crazy drogui guy. By the way, he is in jail now. He is a good neighbor though, we used to share stuff, you know, is nice to trust with the people who lives around you. You never know who can visit… One night a boy was laid down there for more than three days – showing me the entrance of the tunnel – I thought he was dead. I was checking if he was alive every morning, one day he just left.” – John

We stopped in that place for some minutes, time enough to relax a bit for me and to finish the cigarette for John.

john copy

We ended up at another spot out of the tunnel. The spot was under a bridge.

“ Here lives a seventy years old mad man. He collected all this crap in less than 3 months, I wonder how he could do it. One day he became crazy and burned a part of it. He is completely out of his mind, it seems is not here now…” – John

I thought – and I hope not to meet him, at least in that mood.

crazy

Walking under the daylight, pretty close to the Luxor Hotel Casino but in the other side of the Strip, John was sharing with me some of the memories of his childhood. He grow up in a family with nine more siblings, his father was a Doctor and always a good example to him. His mother a humble and sweet person. He became the owner of a Restaurant, father of two boys who are in College now and sometimes visit him.

“I was a businessman, I had a stressed life, awesome cars, always worried about how to make more money and had a bitch as a wife. I am good now. I chose this. I prefer more to be quiet living by my own than to come back to that hell.” – John

Is curious how easy is to connect with strangers sometimes. Who has nothing in common with you and doesn’t care about you at all. And little by little, an environment of confidence and trust is built by looks of understanding and smiles of complicity. And then, during the conversation and mainly in the course of silences, you realize that you are more similar than it seemed, and it just feels so good in both ways.

walking_piku copy

Some hours later I was ready to walk into the crowd in the city of neon lights. Advertisement of new shows and hot babes, music everywhere, people drinking on the street having fun with the puppets, taking photos with sexy girls, gambling and smoking in the Casinos and buying all sorts of jewelry and fashion. The Disney World for adults.

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paio sentat

airport

And it came to my mind a quote from that novelist of the Beat Generation:

“America is not so much a nightmare as a non-dream. The American non-dream is precisely a move to wipe the dream out of existence. The dream is a spontaneous happening and therefore dangerous to a control system set up by the non-dreamers.” – William S. Burroughs

bokeh

diptychs dancing without roof

The enormous garage doors at the Wonderbound dance studio in Denver beg any curious passersby to glance through the glass panels.

Since moving to its new location in Five Points last year, the dance company has attracted the attention of many people in the neighborhood, including homeless people.

After seeing various exchanges between artistic organisations (RedLine Gallery and Wonderbound Studio)  and the homeless community I wanted to explore what happens if you mix both worlds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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