Inessential views of art and photography.
“9.980km, the horizon that separates us” at Domus Artium
Although I visit Salamanca a couple of times a year, since part of my family lives there, I had not heard of the gallery Domus Artium until this June. It took me a visit to the tourist office in the Plaza Mayor to learn that the landscape of contemporary art in Salamanca is everything but bare. So, two Fridays ago I scaped the heat of the streets and found myself in what used to be the town jail surrounded by contemporary photography from Argentina and Spain. Have you been in Domus Artium too? What do you think of the space?
The exhibition is called “9.980km, the horizon that separates us”. It literally refers to the distance between the two countries – Argentina and Spain-. On a metaphorical level, however, it suggest a transatlantic dialogue about territory, space, processes of globalization and the individual worlds we create with every step of our personal journeys. In processes of transit the known and the unknown slam into each other. This collision starts a process of reflection, which is captured by photography. Memories are left behind and it is up to us to collect them and incorporate them into our cultural heritage.
Power: Alejandro Almaraz on old boys’ clubs
The showcased works explore social and political themes from a humble and yet firm perspective. It seems that in both sides of the ocean photographers are setting the accent on telling universal stories in their own particular ways. These are by all means calls for attention, reflection and ultimately action. As soon as I walked in one of the exhibition rooms, several rather dark and old-fashioned looking big prints caught my eye. Presidents, leaders, dictators. All smashed together. The photographs of Alejandro Almaraz. They are an impressive example of visual research. He layers the portraits of all presidents of one state onto one single picture. The result is visually mesmerizing as well as an impressive example of visual research. The resulting density of the print visually narrates the story of power dynamics in the featured country. The complexity of politics seems patent. A more comprehensive engagement is both implied and demanded.
Nostalgia: Irene Cruz on transience
Irene’s Cruz work touched me deeply. As soon as I saw her photographs, I knew they were taken in Germany. It might have been the light, or the colours, or the trees and the sense of space conveyed by the prints. After having lived in that country for over seven years I have developed a sense of attachment to the “German way of life”. I long for it and so does Cruz’s work. Her photos transport us to a placeless place where we all have been and where we all are heading to. Transience. Process. Reflection. Action. Her photographs look like stills from a movie and convey a very nostalgic, ephemeral, ethereal sense of space. Of inner space and of the sometimes painful and always challenging relationship between the inside and the outside.
Disease: Celeste Martinez on compassion
The powerful work of another female photographer left me with a bitter after-taste. Celeste Martinez deals with the social perception of disease. The series Maladie is specifically about cancer. The imaginary of the photographs builds onto the world of medicine as well as of fairy tales and stories of magic. Medical knowledge is after all limited and there is an element of randomness that inevitably impacts on our well being (whether we like it or not). Her photographs awake real fears by contrasting fantasy with reality. This juxtaposition attracted me and made me look at the images closer, only to be left speechless and shaken from within. The feeling was not a naive sense of compassion. It was rather a realization of how sudden disease changes and contaminates your world inside out.
I left the Domus Artium with a weight on my back that I didn’t loose for a couple of hours. While walking back to the city centre, the conversation with my dad revolved around being here while being there, social action and individual selfishness, worries and hopes. We do take the time to talk in depth when we are together, specially because for 345 days a year there is a sea between us. Two Fridays ago however, 9.980km of distance brought us immediately together.