Thursday, March 26, 2015

La Alhambra, inédita

I've not been in Spain since the reopening of the National Archaeological Museum, and so it was high up on my list of things to do while here. Added incentive was the special exhibition called "Una visión inédita de la Alhambra," which tackles the idea of Alhambra photography, and not just the Alhambra itself, as an object of fetishization in the art world.

It's a tiny exhibition, with one gallery of historic photographs by Jean Laurent and one gallery of photographs made in the last few years by Fernando Manso.

 Manso photographs with a large-format camera and the images being shown all had a very narrow depth of field that almost gave them more in common with old etchings and engravings representing the place rather than the historical photography that was pointedly documentary.

But even as his photography deliberately alludes to (and, in fact, uses) older technology, this exhibition showed his photographs not printed but, rather, projected digitally onto the wall. It had a strange effect. Because just as the interplay between hard and soft focus forced by the depth-of-field issue invited the viewer to look more closely at the images, stepping right in front of them, necessarily between the projector and the image, casts the viewer's shadow onto the wall.


It's an awful way to look at photographs, but it does make the point that the act of looking at the building and the records of the building changes the way we look at it, and so in that respect it was a successful decision.

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