Without poetry, life would be devoid of tenderness and humor. We live in a world of realism given over to quotidian things. But there’s more to it, we are able to add a sparkle, something extra to brighten the path that leads us from birth to death.
Poetry doesn’t take much: just freedom! Look at Rimbaud in Africa: he wasn’t even writing by then! People called him “L’homme aux semelles de vent” (The man with shoes of wind. Just walking through the desert was poetry, a poetic rebellion “against” leading a normal comfortable life…
It’s like the Indians of the American Southwest: the word “art” doesn’t exist for them! But what poetry when a group of Hopi Indians sing to the dawn looking at the sky atop a mountain! There is something simple and basic, you could even say primitive, when poetry is expressed: a necessity as profound as the history of mankind.
No tools are needed, just a soul.
And it happens to all of us. All we need is to feel the desire to express it.
It happens in photography as well.
An Australian aborigine making carvings, a flamenco singer, Braque selecting a color, Modigliani inhaling the Paris air, Pepe Florido “shooting” his panoramic camera in his hometown, Juan Manuel Fernández Bernabé placing his pinhole camera in front of a scene he’s observed thousands of times without ever having taking note… Photography has that poetic power: it makes you see, but really and truly see what you normally look at without ever seeing it.
Whether it’s Australia, Paris or Utrera, poetry is always present.
What is important and very significant in this exhibit of two photographers who live in Utrera, is that they, like all poets, need almost nothing to see poetry and then share it with us. Just think: Pepe Florido only uses a disposable camera of plastic and cardboard, a “stretch” that offers a panoramic view; there’s nothing technical to do, no light meter, nothing at all, it’s a toy, he simply points and shoots. It’s the least professional camera imaginable. And yet, Pepe, via poetry, knows what he can photograph with it. He creates wild images, and when I say “wild”, I mean out of the ordinary, things that would never occur to anyone else. Whether it’s skinny dogs, or movement, he shares with us a kind of reality that is different from the day-to-day life of his town.
Juan Manuel Fernández Bernabé uses something basic, the simplest possible thing to view Utrera, the city in which he lives. He just uses a cardboard box with a single pinhole. Can you imagine anything more “automatic” in these times when machines, in order to be automatic, need to be super complicated and full of batteries and red lights that go on and off? A box with a hole in it. That’s all. Have you seen him around town? If you happen to notice someone who looks like he’s “not doing anything” with a box by his side, that’s him, Juan Manuel, taking real photographs with his box…
All great poets show us how to see things in a new way.
Consider these two views of Utrera made with a disposable camera and a “box”: they are charged with poetry. Pepe and Juan Manuel show us their town, your town, in the freshest possible way, newer and more fascinating, with the poetry that’s in the air, every single day, and available to everyone.
Bernard Plossu, Níjar 1991.