Tuesday 11 August 2020
This image of my second daughter Marina embodies all that is to be expected from a photograph.
It is a record, plain and simple, of a time that was and continues to evolve rapidly.
Little do we know how it works until we see it accomplished outside of memory and how it exists on its own. Not only as a memory printed on paper but also as a confirmation that time as relentless and unforgiving, is also a repository of all that is wonderful in our lives.
My girl was about six years old when this shot was taken. Today she turns seventeen and I thank this little print and the image that lives in a negative for allowing me to view her again, from afar into the receding distance.
What she looked like in those days will remain forever in the surface of a small, beautifully crafted photographic print.
Sunday 9 August 2020
Saturday 8 August 2020
Friday 7 August 2020
Tuesday 4 August 2020
This one is a negative neglected earlier, a few years ago, after I visited the artist in his London studio. Looking at it I find details that the other printed images do not have, namely the frontal stance, assertive and positive; and an insinuation of a larger painting in front of which the artist stands.
The other day I went to the darkroom to print some old portraits I had taken in 1995 and had specifically chosen to reproduce a series of portraits of a local character in the old family neighbourhood in Cali, Colombia.
The character in question had grown up near my mother’s house in the south of the city. From what I gather he had grown up a shy boy since he did not have the capacity of speech. His delivery were a series of gutural and unintelligible grunts and sounds that emanated from his mouth and he helped with his hands and pointing in different directions to make his ideas known to others.
After twenty two years abroad I had lost sight and contact with many different aspects of life in the old neighbourhood. Suffice it to say that the boy, whose name I had never heard, was called by those around me, La Mudita, or the Little Mute Girl.
In the intervening years the young lad had developed a taste for dressing as a girl and, having been an abandoned child reared by others, was without education or means of support. In his late teens and being an attractive strong bodied mulato he/she had started dressing up and took to prostitution in a section of town where street-walkers plied their trade after dark.
At some point before the end of the nineteen eighties there were a series of attacks by gunmen who, according to their communiques, were intent on cleaning that part of the city of “vermin” and other plagues, including travesties, street prostitutes, drug dealers and whoever got on their way.
Some time during those years before the onset of the nineties, the Little Mute Girl was shot and left semi-paralized. That is what I was told by friends and neighbours after I arrived back in the old corral in the early days of January 1995.
One afternoon as I was lying around the house after lunch there was a knock on the front door and I went to answer it. I opened the door and there she was, hair in absolute disarray, burnt darker by the daily dose of sun outdoors and gesticulating wildly in front of me. She walked with the aid of two walking canes in a strange way that had her swing from one side to the other as she advanced forward.
She wanted to have her picture taken and since she had seen me around with my camera decided to approach me. I though it would be good and set up an impromptu studio and got to it at once. It all took place in my mother’s scarcely populated living room.
Twenty five years later I look at these portraits and feel an overwhelming sense of peace followed by a measure of outrage when I think that the country I have always called my own, my birthplace, is still so wild, so savage in many ways, so unjust and retrograde.
A place where human life still amounts to almost nothing when compared to the prejudice of others.
Saturday 1 August 2020
This indeleble image brings back childhood memories. It must have been taken around 1955-56 by one of those street photographers of the time. We are crossing Carrera Cuarta and Calle Doce en Cali, on the way to Sunday Mass in the Cathedral in Cali. It was the weekly endeavour we had to endure before a visit to the ice cream parlour after church.
My father holds his three boys, my older brother Nelson on the left, myself holding both my brother and my father's hand, and on the right, our younger brother Beto.
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