I had my first proper vacation time in six years and for about one month I moved to CELEUMA, a house inherited from a dear friend that passed away in 2018, which I’ve recently turned into a creative residency.
The house is located in the countryside, isolated but not without some neighbours and the sea is in sight. It’s an agricultural place, with very fertile soils and beautifully assorted vegetation all around. As is typical of this west coast, fog almost always visits in the mornings, creating the perfect conditions for long walks with the dogs.
As eat, sleep and rest finally kicked in, providing the necessary rehabilitation of body and soul, I’ve been spending my time in between walks, literature, music, writing and photography. I spent the first 20 days with no access to internet, choosing not to hear any form of outside news on the radio and having very little contact with other human beings. After the first three weeks, I had to go back to the city for some work and I can’t find the words to describe the sort of shit I went back to. So I came back and picked up where I left. Almost…
In late July, upon arrival, both I, the dogs and the cat were struggling with some health issues. Most of them disappeared while at CELEUMA, but soon paid a visit when we briefly went back home, so I’m now working on trying to figure out how to carry this energy back with us so that we can all stay healthier. Hopefully, it’s doable.
While here, I always find myself photographing with a different sort of joy and purpose. As the experience is approaching the end (for now) and new residents will start arriving for the fall residencies, I’m considering making something out of the work created. Usually, I do the process, but then go back to the city and leave it all on the drawer. Maybe I’ll manage to do things differently this time.
Because I felt exhausted when I arrived, I did a self-portrait on the first day, hoping that image would somehow reveal some truth about the state I was in and motivate me to take care of myself and heal. As usual, what happens when I create self-portraits is I don’t recognize myself, so all I think about is of the order of the photographic, visual language and aesthetic truth. I began taking self-portraits each time something was happening that I felt worth registering. That “something” was mostly internal: a state, a feeling, an emotion, a dream, a vision… Besides the realm of emotions that triggered the ideas, there was nothing spontaneous about the process, for it involved setting up the camera, the tripod, the flash (mostly used a Metz 45 CT-5) and moving some of the furniture around.
As I kept repeating that methodology, I was also photographing the daily walks around the house, this time with a Pentax Espio 140V and Kodak TMax 400. I love walking and discovering new places, so soon after our arrival we were making 10km walks each morning, facing some of the hills around, which turned out to be great to get some strength back. Because the hunting season has now begun, we’re having to make some adjustments regarding those walks, but all is still pleasurable enough.
I then made a selection of images and started printing them. With little surprise, I ended up printing all the portraits in black and white as well (they were shot digitally). That decision is mostly due to my love for the laser printer I brought to this house: and old Samsung ML-1510, which I find has an irresistible appeal, namely the intensity of the blacks and the rawness it imprints thru the traces it leaves on the paper.
Anyway, that selection then gave way to another selection which is now on the wall, waiting for me to decide whether this time around I’ll finally publish a zine or if it ends back in that same old drawer.
(to be continued…)