Camera and City: Photography in history form

In the sun, there was a special light at the top of the building, the street was full and in the distance, the city park was opening up in the middle of the big city. I was on my way. It’s hard not to be on the road in a city as big as this one. The light hit me directly in the face and, unintentionally, I smiled, caught me, called me and, little by little, I was getting closer. The great monument in the Citadel Park of Barcelona greeted me, imperious. And I returned its greeting, completely sure that it was waiting for me. I remember the light because it seemed the same to me as the one you feel inside when you are in love. And, then, you want to immortalize that feeling, that touch, that second, to turn it into something infinite, lasting, to be able to return from time to time to the moment. You take out the mobile, you frame, you focus, you click and then, somehow, you get that instant never to die and you find the magic of the moments, inevitably, finite.

And it is from this memory that my vision of the exhibition “Camera and City, Urban Life in Photography and Cinema” (Cámara y ciudad. La vida urbana en la fotografía y en el cine) begins. It begins with the sensation of wanting to preserve something and, in the end, almost unwittingly, turn a city into an eternal myth. The photographic medium has immortalized the modern city throughout the twentieth century as a setting for the work of life, as a large television set that welcomes us, the city as the place where worlds and realities reside, sometimes so disparate that you do not believe they belong to the same place. The city as the epicentre of the society created around the lights it evokes.

The city of Paris portrayed since the early 1920s, a sample of newspapers that speak of a world war that left countries devastated, the powerful and majestic image showing the reality of our parents, police charges, hundreds of images that speak of the streets of Barcelona, its neighborhoods, the cities that surround it and the sectors of the population that lived there and that still persist, images of a New York that has nothing of what they show us in films.

The historical facts lived in the last century appear in front of us in a perfect staging. The more you dig into the walls, the more attractive the idea of learning more becomes. Spanish Civil War, migratory crisis or the recession that was experienced in the last economic crisis, everything is discovered in a thread that accompanies you on the path of history. Photography as the main aid in the work of documenting and also telling stories.

Frames that become movies or small montages that tell something that impacts and excites. A model that parades before the attentive gaze of those present and of the objective. Clothes stretched out in dozens of windows that open in a plot line that explains a social reality.

André Kertész captures “Paris in summer. A stormy afternoon” (Paris en verano. Una tarde de tormenta) in 1925, Brassaï captures in 1930 the work “Homeless, quay of Tuileries” (Vagabunda, Muelle de las Tullerías), the two works stand out for their modernity, for their complexity and for the quality of the same ones, that sometimes are difficult to obtain even with the most current cameras. In 1967, Marc Riboud created an iconic image, “The Young Woman with a Flower” (La joven con Flor), which has been a key element in many protests around the world. A function of photography as a protest that is also found in the “Collection of mattresses for refugees. 20/10/1936” (Recogida de colchones para los refugiados. 20/10/1936) by Pérez de Rozas. The four images are included in this fascinating exhibition on the history and role of the camera in today’s world.

CaixaFórum opens the doors to this reflection until 8 March 2020. I invite you to enter, to think about those moments that you have fixed in your memory, those photographs that hang on your walls, which are in a frame on the bookshelf at home, those moments impregnated in black and white that your grandparents show you. To those stories that hide behind the faces you contemplate. I invite you to the city is also your stage and I wish you to find in it, a click, a frame, an action, a moment that is unforgettable and eternal.

Information and tickets info at: CaixaForum.es (Spanish Website)

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