La fotografía como intervención
Medidas: 21x24 cm
One of the most internationally renowned Cuban artist
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Documentary photography has a great tradition in Cuba. The images of the Cuban Revolution going through the bearded revolutionaries and the iconic Che Guevara up to the literacy campaign, the tumultuous nationalisations and demonstrations – they were all caught and diffused by great photographers from the sixties to the eighties. The parades carried on being covered, but they haven’t moved anyone for a long time.
In the nineties there was a palpable change from glory to uncertainty. In Carlos Garaicoa’s early work there are images of these impoverished surroundings which is beginning to suffer the effects of the economic collapse, the phase known as the Special Period. His lens becomes a witness to the unease and above all to ruin.
For over twenty years the starting point for Carlos Garaicoa’s work has been this documentary character, immediately afterwards expanding into an invented addition. His works have often been called Utopian, and this is not totally off the mark. I see them as desired projections, as future possibilities for a present without any solutions, as challenges to our imagination and to our immobility. But if one does not capture the aggressiveness inherent to many of his projects, the sharpness of his irony or the impotent despair with which he turns to the spectator, means one is fooling oneself, not getting into what matters.
It is difficult to sum up Garaicoa’s career in a few words, but it is possible to point out some groups of works that attest to his constant search for exploring new languages through the most diverse techniques: ranging from the classic photos printed on Duraflex paper in his portfolio, to the largescale photographs mounted and laminated on gator board and then pierced with pins in order to create drawings in a line with poetic comments on the reality portrayed; the inclusion of stucco like a renaissance fresco, on the surface of which one prints directly, to then be coated by laser, letting the metal support of the mounting to be seen in a game of architectural lines that complete the initial photograph; the pictures of modern buildings mounted on methacrylate and metal, which are then sprayed with a 9mm calibre pistol in an exorcism of the fear of the stray bullet, to the emulated frailties of architecture and of life itself; the project to which he has assiduously returned, in which he photographically and physically reproduces advertising or decorative ceramic panels that he comes across on his way; and finally his recent Phototopographies (2011), a series of works in which the photograph becomes three dimensional in polystyrene, creating a game of high and low reliefs made possible due to the scale of greys in his documentary photographs.
All of these works show an interest for breaking the limits of traditional photography, reactivating the medium and opening up a long path of semiotic possibilities, but at the same time they maintain a deep respect for that image of departure, that document that is faithful to the state of things.