Can anyone really want to spend their leisure time in bleak, gray places like these? The answer is Yes. And for example, that of Txema Salvans on Photo Collection with his work Perfect Day, a photographic journey through the free time on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, although this one, precisely, is never seen in the photos.
Salvans (Barcelona, 1971) has been 15 years traveling along the coast, from Girona to Algeciras, inquiring with images in daily life and human behavior in its broadest sense, in a work halfway between what artistic and anthropological. “I make projects from my land, from my stage, from the mental and emotional space in which I have grown up. With my culture I can be much more critical because I know it & rdquor ;, says Salvans. “I’m always looking to talk about how we, as a species, relate to the environment & rdquor ;, he adds.
Between 2005 and 2020 Salvans has traveled 150,000 kilometers with his van and his large format analog camera. Working, as he says, “in a very intuitive way & rdquor ;. “I am like a cook who goes to the market without knowing what he is going to cook. In the market, he searches, chooses, and when he gets home, he cooks: a first, a second and a dessert & rdquor ;, he says. The menu that the photographer now offers in Foto Colectania is made up of 49 images that were published in book form (Perfect day. Editorial Mack) during the pandemic and now reaching theaters.
In them a review is made of the surprising places where we consume our leisure time: people sunbathe next to monstrous concrete structures, hang out in desolate places or wait for something to happen (or not) in inhospitable settings. The sea is always close but Salvans always turns his back on it, which makes the photo even more strange. In passing, looking head-on at these reviled everyday landscapes, the author questions the stereotypes of overexploitation of the Mediterranean coastline.
The objective of the photographer is clear: “I am not satisfied with beautiful images. I want my images to challenge. I go with a very clear idea and with the photo I provoke you. I did not come here to be objective, if not, I would be a mathematician & rdquor ;, says Salvans, who, by the way, studied Biology. Despite that provocative intention, Salvans does not cross any red lines and portrays our leisure time with delicate irony: “I don’t allow myself to make a joke with people. I have photos that are a joke, a joke and I have not published them. There is a very careful editing process & rdquor ;, he explains.
Catalog of habits and customs
All the work of Txema Salvans has a common denominator. First of all, the use of analog, always with the same camera, the same optics and the same film, to obtain a common texture in the photos. “All the limitations of analog allows me to be free as an author & rdquor;, Explain. Second, there is no question of asking the protagonist for permission: “That is inherent in documentary photography: the photo passes over the portrayed & rdquor ;, he says. Salvans always tells how many times he climbs with his large camera with a tripod on the roof of his van to take the images: “Everybody sees me but nobody takes me into account. They think: ‘this man is here working’. It’s fascinating & rdquor ;.
And so, photo by photo, this worker of the image builds a catalog of habits and customs of our society that, surely, will transcend him in time. “I like to think that my work – beyond the photos I choose to show – is an archive for anthropologists, journalists, researchers, architects & mldr; I think my contacts have that & rdquor; value, he admits.
“Photography is a must. My need is to be alone and ramble. And, look, I found the photograph & rdquor ;, Salvans sentence. The exhibition can be seen at Foto Colectania in Barcelona until November 21.