With your hand on your heart, tell me you have never been moved by a photograph. Such is the power of photography. I am ashamed to say that despite spending over twelve years in the world of photography professionally (and many more as an amateur) I have never written about this art which means so much for me.
I took my Kodak Disk camera on a high school trip to the Soviet Union in 1983 (yes, I am old). The camera was not particularly good with its tiny negatives and tiny lens, but it exposed me (haha) to the magic of capturing powerful images. A couple of years later, I borrowed my sister’s Canon AE1 Program for a holiday in Greece and my passion for photography started in earnest. Back home, I permanently appropriated my dad’s Pentax ME Super (he never used it) and, as they say, the rest is history.
In 1991, I made my hobby into my job, when I got the opportunity to work as a sales manager for an English photo distributor in Spain. From there I entered the photo lab supply business and eventually started my own company supplying photo labs all over Spain. It was genuine fun until 2004 when everybody got a digital camera for Christmas and traditional photography as we knew it ended, overnight.
Needless to say, photography has remained my passion, although I gave all my equipment away to one of my students who was studying photography (3 different Pentax bodies, a bunch of lenses, and accessories – but I kept my Billingham bag!)
The other day I went to a History of Photography exhibit at the Fundación Juan March, and I was deeply moved by images I knew by heart: Man Ray, Mapplethorpe, Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï, Ansell Adams, Capa, and on and on. It was very emotional.
If you are in Madrid head over this exhibit, you are welcome.
One of the great benefits of being in Madrid for my Summer break is being able to attend all sorts of events that are difficult to find in South Florida.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a great series of conferences on Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the brilliant Mexican Baroque writer (and musician, architect, scientist, and cook!), whom I studied a bit for my PhD at UNC.
The conference was hosted at the great Fundación Juan March (which I have already mentioned here) and the speaker was Esperanza López Parada, professor of Latin American literature at the Complutense University in Madrid.
The first lecture was on Sor Juana’s time, her life, and her writings in general. It is always interesting to learn new facts and perspectives on someone you have studied.
The second lecture focused on the poem Primero Sueño, and it included actor Beatriz Arguello reading the poem. The commentary and the reading were masterfully interwoven, making for an extremely rewarding experience!
López Parada cited my UNC professor (and PhD Committee Member Rosa Perelmuter, which was very moving for me). We even chatted a bit after the conference, which was a nice little plus.
Here is a video López Parada showed us of the adaptation into song of one of Sor Juana’s most famous poems: Hombres necios.
One of the wonderful things of being in Madrid is that many interesting places are walking distance from home. If they are a bit farther away, I can always jump on a rental scooter, on a little motorbike, or a bicycle, if it’s harsh weather I can take public transportation like buses or metro. In a worst-case scenario, I can rent a car per hours. My dinosaur Land Rover cannot be legally parked downtown.
Recently I walked to the Fundación Juan March, which I have talked about before in this blog to see a great exhibit on Ad Reinhardt, a groundbreaking abstract American painter. The exhibit was split into two distinct areas: an area of his paintings showing his evolution into the purest minimalism (see the photo of the red painting) where a monochromatic canvas has only the most subtle color variations, mesmerizing!
The other part covers Reinhardt’s career as an illustrator, teacher, activist, and designer.
He also coined some evident but necessary phrases like
Art is Art. Everything else is everything else
Art is too serious to be taken seriously
If you get a chance to see the exhibit in Madrid, go now. If Madrid is not an option go check out his paintings at the Museum Folkwang Essen, SFMOMA in San Francisco, and of course the New York MOMA and the Met.