Tuesday, July 5

The return of the living



The famous photograph of the republican soldier that Robert Capa took in the Spanish civil war, just at the moment in which he was struck down by bullets, appeared at the time of its realization in the North American magazine ‘Life’. Today it is surprising to see it on the pages of that publication, surrounded by other news, headlines or even advertising. It is observed how the image returns to its initial function of pure information, already being, as it is, an iconographic paradigm. It is very interesting to analyze what has happened with this type of images, the change that occurs in their nature from the documentary intention in which they are created until, surviving the expiration of the facts they illustrate, they take on symbolic values ​​and

they illuminate new visual and aesthetic patterns.

The photographs that can be seen in the exhibition entitled ‘Life’, which has just opened at the Palacín de León with works by Gervasio Sánchez and which will remain open until March 27, are also portraits that survive the dramatic realities they showed , images that have passed into books and showrooms after the news that produced them faded, incorporating lasting human values ​​into their first informative message.

The author and the curator of the exhibition, Gerardo Mosquera, have emphasized proposing a positive reading of this collection of dramas. Only one death appears among the sixty-eight photographs belonging to the most diverse conflicts in the world, from the brutal war in Sierra Leone to the devastation of the siege of the city of Sarajevo, passing through many others. We visit an authentic universal museum of human pain presented in images slightly softened by frames, compositions or light plays. We see a whole repertoire of the results of violence exerted mechanically, not so much by savage impulses as by coldly designed plans: limbs amputated by the effect of antipersonnel mines, a large number of prostheses, orthopedic legs or hands, scars, child soldiers, people holding the portraits of their missing loved ones, house fronts punctuated by hundreds of gunshots, rubble or ruins; but always someone living in the midst of disaster: smiling children climbing the skeleton of bombed buildings, students willing to learn in their homeless school, mutilated boys playing soccer, a girlfriend who caresses her boyfriend’s artificial hand …

This exhibition shows the follow-up that has been made to life after the destruction, the author has maintained a relationship for decades with several of the victims of violence, checking how some ended up being happy. Gervasio insists on the obvious that has been somewhat blurred with the impact of his necessary denunciation, with his clear exposition of the atrocious: that it is possible to murder and maim people but not to annihilate life, what tragedy after tragedy life has achieved until the moment to survive, that the return of the living always occurs and that the images are also there to show it.

See them


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