In the late eighteenth century, a catastrophic typhoon swept over Pingelap, a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean. One of the survivors, the king, carried the rare achromatopsia gene that causes complete colorblindness. The king went on to have many children and as time passed by, the hereditary condition affected the isolated community and most islanders started seeing the world in black and white. Achromatopsia is characterized by extreme light sensitivity, poor vision, and the complete inability to distinguish colors. In Micronesia achromats adapt to their reduced level of visual functioning (due lack of resources like sunglasses and tinted lenses) by using visual strategies such as blinking, squinting, shielding their eyes, or positioning themselves in relation to light sources.
Portraying the islanders that by their fellow Micronesians are referred to as ‘blind’ resulted in a conceptual selection of images that mask or empower their eyes, their face, or their ‘vision’ and invite the viewer to enter a dreamful world of colorful possibilities. Color is just a word to those who cannot see it. If the colorblind people paint with their mind, how would they color the world, the trees, themselves?
Daylight is too bright to bear, moonlight turns night into day. Flames light up in black and white, trees turn pink, a thousand shades of grey, a rainbow revisited. Initiating my visual research in FSM I tried to find ways to envision how people with achromatopsia see the world. I experimented with different ways of photographing, trying to see the island through their eyes. ‘The Island of the Colorblind’ consists of three kinds of images; ‘normal’ digital black and white photos, infrared images and photo-paintings. Together they are metaphorical attempts to visualize how the colorblind people see the world.
In Ignoscentia the artist describes and processes her own experiences with child sexual abuse. Radically subjective, yet globally applicable, she manages to open the subject to others by using subtle images that usually work as a metaphor and therefore leave space for one’s own interpretation. She combines different methods like photography, video, sound, writing, graphic design and multiple layers of material such as old family pictures, destroyed images, self-portraits and found objects.
It is a self-reflective revelation but also serves as an identifying ground, considering that statistics estimate that somewhere between every third and fifth woman will experience sexual abuse in her life.
Ignoscentia shows the viewer on different levels what sexual abuse can mean to someone’s life by tackling the vague emotions that are often difficult to express with words only. It furthermore aims to remind other survivors that they are not alone and can help them to reflect their own feelings.
I am 32 years old. I look at my camera. My camera will be my instrument of analysis, my therapy.
I am going to photograph my body to force myself to look at it, to understand it. From now on it will not be a battlefield, but a fighting partner. I will photograph myself so that this process is recorded, so that other people see it and feel less alone.
My way of making myself visible, of claiming my place in the world after a lifetime spent trying to make myself smaller, in a society without space or representation for fat people.
Lilou is the nickname given to my big brother Antoine. As Luc Besson’s heroine in The Fifth Element, he is an exceptional person, living in a world different from others. In his own universe.
Antoine is a 32-year-old adult with severe autism who lives in a nursing home in Normandy, France.
Lucie Hodiesne Darras wants to highlight the daily life of her brother, of his world.
And through photography, to be the interpreter of his wordless language.
Bestiary of Females is a proposal of photographic self-portraits where the artist builds masks with organic matter, to give life to various creatures, verbalized from words that are used in everyday language to denigrate women and associate them to the animal world.
In a context in which debates about gender issues have been opened, there are still fissures that evidence violent ways in which women and nature have been conceived, specifically in the figure of animal epithets. In Western culture, women are often labeled with animal names to insult them and to emphasize ethically improper behavior or physical aspects that do not conform to the canon of beauty. For example, when they are called fox, dog, viper, sow, etc.
The materiality with which the masks are made are skins and entrails of animals such as chicken, pork or fish, elements that are not necessarily used for food consumption, thus constructing the work with the waste of the meat industry.
It is important to emphasize that no animal was harmed or mistreated in the realization of the project; on the contrary, they are a way of paying homage to discarded corporalities.
As a child, I had to read the psalm of David twice a day, morning and evening, according to the prayer rule.
Then I felt my personhood through pain: “…the subject (since Christianity) is the one who suffers. Where there is a wound, there is a subject” says Roland Barthes in “A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments”. Now I am reviewing my memories from new perspectives. But no new self-definition (atheist, feminist, spectator…) takes me out completely from the Christian paradigm, where agency derives from pain and trauma.
God, as a projection of my rejecting father, made me want to attract attention through sin. The very word “sin” has always had a sexual connotation for me. From the text of New Testament, I learned that God did not come to the righteous, but sinners, and this determined the strategy of my behavior for many years. Mary Magdalene became an example I would follow as a woman who lived outside of taboos. Sin was interpreted by me as rebellion, new sincerity, and the right to subjectivity.
In this project, I decided to recreate some significant events from my life through photography, to look at them from the outside, as does the God I don’t believe in.
Each frame corresponds to both a traumatic memory and a line from the psalm.
Migrating and Resisting is a vital and essential testimony, necessary to understand the reality of the humanitarian crisis that is taking place right now in our continent.
The book, written in the first person, narrates the experience of Mònica, a woman who begins by photographing, documenting and denouncing the situation suffered by those who arrive and that ends up volunteering in several refugee camps. For three years, the writer meets men and women who have done the impossible to start a new life, far from war, misery or oppression and who have encountered a cruel Europe that does not respect even the right to life. From the honest hand of the narrator, we see how independent volunteers and activists fight to humanize situations while politicians and a part of society look the other way.
A story of resilience and resistance, but, above all, of dignity and love for others.
In front of a computer, distances are now redefined. Who is near and who is far away, when the feeling of belonging is defined by virtual spaces? The ability to transcend physical proximity through technological means forces us to constantly reflect on how awareness of our own place on the planet is currently being redesigned.
Identities are built across ethnic boundaries and national sovereignty. The ability to move both physically and virtually around the planet reminds us of how the nomadic spirit moved the first human groups in search of new spaces.
At the heart of a landscape dominated by cyberspace, the colonization of America through the massive migration of human groups from Asia seems to be the starting point of an ideological debate. However, not only is it possible today to have archaeological evidence that weakens this hypothesis, but it also forces us to deconstruct the conceptual limits of the idea of ”colonization”. Although “colonization” can refer exclusively to structures of political domination, it is also important to understand it as a dynamic of reformulation of social spaces through migration and the interaction of different human groups.
By writing this, we do not want to deny the violence that accompanied the imposition of political patterns of domination, but to evoke the spirit of the first nomadic groups to highlight how virtual space redefines the mobility of human beings towards the world at the present time.
The Backway is a transmedia project based on journalistic research and documentary images on the main migratory routes from Africa to Europe. Faced with the continuous images of migrants crossing —and shipwrecked— in the Mediterranean, our objective was to answer the question: What happens before reaching the Mediterranean Sea?
Since 2014, more than half a million people (648,433) have reached European shores by crossing the Central Mediterranean. This route, that passes through Libya, and that extends more than 7,000 kilometers and crosses the Sahara Desert, is also the deadliest in the world. 18,426 people have been shipwrecked trying to reach Europe since 2014. The International Organization for Migration estimates that almost twice as many disappeared in the desert – some 30,000 people – although there is no official data or anyone looking for the bodies under the sand.
But African migration is not numbers, routes or deaths. They are persons. Migration is the despair of a young man who cannot find a job, the uncertainty and unease of family members who remain at home. It is the hope that the loved one will return one day and the acceptance of the grandfather that he will never see his grandson again.
In The Backway, we have traveled to seven countries on the main West African route to Europe -Gambia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Mali, Niger, Tunisia and Libyan territorial waters- to get closer to the people who are at the fore in this key 21st century phenomenon. Our aim was to understand the reasons and context that push people to migrate, as well as to give visibility to human rights violations and the real effects of the migration policies of the EU and its allies.
Her artistic practice is interdisciplinary and immersive. During this two-month residency, Àgata Skupniewicz has worked extensively on the concept of the border. The “RE: al_l_ity” project collects documents and images from the Casa Planas social archive on cultural heritage, but especially has taken photographs on the island’s natural heritage as a natural frontier. The contemporary landscape emerges in its dichotomy between the inside-outside, between the limit-access, addressing gray tones and liquid transitions. The project starts from her own journey, that of her body, in transit to Mallorca, objectifying the journey and the border (political and geographical).
Exhibition from the “Constellations” residence
Collective 220 – Houari Bouchenak – Youcef Krache – Ramzy Bensaadi – Abdo Shanan – Fethi Saharaoui
220 is the number of the hotel room where some of the founding members of the collective met while participating in a photography festival in Algiers. This name is a tribute to this improvised reunion and the connections that grew out of it. The desire to create this group was mainly due to the need to offer a space for exchange, reflection and common work in an environment that lacked these collective experiences in Algeria. Their approaches and visual languages vary, but they share the same desire to photograph their realities in a personal and subjective way, to tell their stories and to show different perspectives of what Algeria is today.
Collective220 is a photographic narrative anchored in diverse and scattered areas of the Algerian territory, which tells stories of people, cities and spaces. The collective aims to be a vast field of experimentation and learning for each member, with its various subjects, techniques and tools. In addition to being a kind of shared internal laboratory, 220 is a way of creating external links to encourage exchanges with photographers, artists and other groups from around the world.
Digital photography, a neoliberal force
Conference and round table
In collaboration with the Walter Benjamin Summer School
The use of digital photography by billions of people around the world is a social fact. These new uses, which fundamentally break with those of cinematographic photography, are part of the planetary development of neoliberalism that allows interconnection between people through new tools, smartphones and social networks. André Rouillé has built this book around the link between the development of digital photography and neoliberalism.
“Don’t lose it” are Bilal’s words and silences. It is a reflection on the migratory process of young migrants without adult references.
There is a rupture with certain cultural, social and symbolic elements, the constancy of pursuing dreams, the anguish, the frustration, the search for new zones of comfort and care. It is about approaching certain concepts that cross and question our subjectivity.
At the confines of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, the landscape is crisscrossed by paths and roads, dotted with villages and hamlets at each end of rivers that run dry for part of the year. Crossing the Albères massif, bumping into a blind wall here, a sharp rock there, the route takes unexpected paths and resigns itself to detours. Retracing its steps, contouring, forming dead ends where the exchange should take place. The shale massif takes the aspect of a golden island where the dark rocks are sculpted by the elements and the history of mankind.
The work presented is an excerpt of the project developed during the Fotolimo residency carried out in collaboration with the Memorial du Camp de Rivesaltes in 2019-2020.
According to the bible, in the book of Genesis, Onan had to marry his sister-in-law due to the death of his brother, and he had to have a child to ensure the firstborn’s lineage. But each time they had sexual intercourse, Onan ejaculated on earth because this son would not be seen as his but as his brother’s son. By not following divine orders, God kills Onan. For the religious tradition the “seed” or semen should not be spilled in vain, Onan’s sin was interrupted intercourse or onanism (masturbation) for preventing fertilization, which is divine law. Unnatural forms of sexuality include all those practices not geared to procreation. Unlike heterosexuality, the other orientations have been classified as disease, pathology, disorder, perversion or aberration that should be cured or treated. The series adopts the title Sons of Onan because Onan symbolizes sin, the heretic, contraception, the marginalized.
In this series I continue the sketch of the inner search from gender, identity, from the corporal performance and the socio-sexual being; I emphasize the plurality of human beings, sexual orientations, the nude, the erotic, the pleasure, the mask, I delve into that hidden “other self”. Due to the complexity of the subject, it is urgent to carry out a treatment that shows not only sexuality and sexual orientations from an edge of pleasure, from a positive point of view, but that also shows its conflicts and zones of silences. I isolate and dissolve that hierarchical sex-gender-sexuality construct, pre-established and imposed by the heteronorm of power, linked to the concepts of Man or Woman, to offer other views deviated from their logic.
In Céret, a bridge, an object that connects, an object that divides.
The border is not the coastal river that must be crossed, the border is in the vision of our world and in the questioning of this zone at the edge of the city, this urban border that the project risks to make disappear. A zone at the edge, inhabited by a very varied population.
During my residence in Céret, I met the people of the “Bien Vivre” collective in Vallespir, who have been fighting for several years against the construction of a new bridge. Alongside them, I discovered the extent of the area impacted by this project, and the different individuals, all affected by the construction of the new bridge: farmers forced to sell the land that they have worked for 26 years, families forced to leave their homes, opponents to the urbanization of these lands. This photo project presents a few snapshots as a cross-section of these people, this territory and the stories behind it.
Works selected through the open call “Borders”, open to students and alumni of the photography school El Observatorio of Barcelona. A selection of 30 photographs on the border issue approached from the broadest sense of the word, will be distributed between the streets of Colera, Portbou and Cerbère.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to shake a mountain of hope, to destroy big dreams, to destroy what little faith we had left after hitting rock bottom. Sometimes it doesn’t take much for us to question our own humanity.
In an already deeply unequal France, where the words freedom, equality and fraternity, beyond their sonic beauty, are nothing more than vestiges of a deconstructed humanity, the Covid-19 has come to reveal the hypocrisy and bad faith of those who can help, but do not always do it the way they should, when it should be done and for whom it should be done.
Yes, they are there, in the streets. Almost everywhere. Visible or invisible, but not at all hidden. They are there because they are homeless. They live where they can, as in a parallel world, an “other world” with other codes: the world of the “homeless.” Surprised by Covid-19 and by the containment measures adopted by the French authorities, the unconfined homeless have seen their lives turn upside down, finding themselves, since the outbreak of the pandemic, in an uncomfortable situation that they could not foresee. Authorities say people must remain confined to their homes. But what do you do when there is no “home”? What do you do when you live on the street?
The streets have been emptied. Begging is impossible. They believe they have been forgotten in this health crisis. Abandoned to their fate in the deserted streets of the city, they animate some unsuspected spaces enabled as temporary shelters, while they wait… Until then, they are there. Fighting bad weather and police trying to evict them. But where can they go in these times of curfew, when the calm of the streets makes their silent presence more visible and revealing?
The origin of this project is based on the images we are presented with about refugees. Images that are both violent and terribly deadly.
What I propose is a way of looking through a singular prism and, in the specific case of this project, to give an account of a desire for the future that underlies the desire to live. Images that go beyond the sole question of refugees, but that concern us all, because sowing the future is a collective act, a posture to be held. What is important here is the gesture, the movement that characterizes each sower and whose face wears a mask. A strong symbol which translates for some as the loss of identity and whose face, the true face, carries the stigmata of a deep dislike. Tomorrow, since we are talking about the future, tomorrow the masks will fall and the borders will be only a vague memory of these years spent in the clandestinity of our plural identities.
The texts that accompany each photographic portrait tell a story. They begin with the words of each sower, which I translate into a short narrative. It is about photographs, doubts, dreams, feathers, masks, borders. It is not a commentary on the image, but rather of an off-camera of what constitutes the material of an image. A story that concerns everyone because we all have a singular story to sow.
Exhibitions in Barcelona
Gender, sex and transgression
La Lleialtat Santsenca (Barcelona)
9/9 – 9/10 2020
Curated by Patrice Loubon
Fabien Dupoux (France), Zaida Gonzalez Rios (Chile), Noncedo Gxekwa (South Africa), Yanahara Mauri (Cuba), Yomer Montejo Harrys (Cuba), Yuri Obregon Batard (Cuba), Alejandro Perez Alvarez (Cuba), Pauline Sauveur (France), Neus Solà (Catalonia) and Carla Yovane (Chile)
Art has always embraced sex and transgression with open arms, from rock art and phallic or vulvar inscriptions, to androgynous portraits by Leonardo da Vinci, or transgender erotic photographs by Pierre Molinier and the vivid intimacies of Larry Clark or Nan Goldin, gender, sexuality and transgression permeate art permanently.
What could be more obvious than the fact that photography is also the theater of atypical sexual representations and demands?
Gender, sex and transgression is not the first nor the last of the exhibitions that examine the question.
This exhibition brings together ten photographers who, each in their own way, come to tell us about their relationship with the body, gender and certain forms of sexuality that are largely tabooed.
It is not surprising that in this election four of them are Cuban. After having, for a long time, condemned practices that were described as “deviant”, this famous small Latin American country is today in fact at the forefront of sex change research.