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Everything that has just occurred

Photograph,  40 x 50 cm, KODAK photo paper 250Mg LUSTRE,
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1. In a gross over-simplification, but one which may applicable here, we could say that there are two ways in which a photographer can address a scenario subject to being photographed.

The first would to be constantly on the look-out, awaiting the possibility of capturing on camera the “decisive moment” to which Henri Cartier-Bresson referred. In this case, the photographer acts as a flâneur, seeking to encounter the unknown, whatever may appear before the lens. Bearing his lightweight camera, always readied to take a snap, the photographer is never in control of the shot; his task is merely to select the setting and that precise moment in which, thanks to his skill and the intuition of his gaze, he seems to capture an entire setting .or situation. Good reflexes and a lightweight camera are essential, along with a high shutter speed, permitting just enough time to allow the film to simply capture the shot, that decisive moment.

In terms of both the photographic technique and photographer’s attitude to the shot, the second way would be the precise opposite of the first one. The photo is never something left to chance; it is studied and sought. The photo’s subject matter forms part of a project which, in some cases, may be a lifelong undertaking never to be concluded (just think of the endless series by Bernd and Hilla Becher). To this end, photographers establish certain rituals with the subject matter and settings photographed, entailing meticulous preparation for each and every shot; nothing must be left to chance. The shutter speeds are low, and the time required for the scene to slowly but completely impregnate the film is long. This type of photography entails enormous precision in the framing, and the light and depth of field need to be controlled; here the snap-shot is totally irrelevant. If in the previous manner of photography, the shutter time was the bare minimum required to set an image on the film, in this way of tackling photography time is suspended to ensure that each square millimetre of film, each pixel, is steeped in the setting.

 

2. José Hevia has been working as an architectural photographer for many years. A good part of contemporary Spanish architecture’s output has passed through his lens, and he has also recorded part of the work of the two great Spanish masters of the twentieth century: Alejandro de la Sota and José Antonio Coderch. Hevia belongs to that new generation of photographers who, thanks to the new digital techniques, manage to do what was so difficult with the old analogical photography —extra-large angular shots, extremely sharp images filled with light and impossible contrasts, all executed with an impeccable technique — and which today inundate the print and digital architectural media.

Nonetheless, in addition to his career as a professional photographer, Hevia has, for many years, been working on a number of projects, at times interrupted, in different fields. Here we shall examine two series of photographs dealing with one single typology: bunkers. One series is devoted to those located on France’s north Atlantic coast, and the other to the Mediterranean ones on the island of Majorca. The topic is not an original or new one (Paul Virilio already documented the Atlantic bunkers decades ago), although the intention is. Returning to the aforementioned two ways of approaching photography, Hevia’s stance is neither that of an opportunist snap hunter, nor that of a patient, exhaustive observer devoting hours to the ritual of preparing the subject matter. Somewhere between a “decisive moment” (which he never really captures, which has already passed) and German systematic photography (without so much rigour in the ritual and which allows itself to be contaminated by uses), his photographs seem to focus on that which has just happened and which he (deliberately) sees himself incapable of recording. What Hevia’s photos capture are traces of the activities of certain (intentionally absent) individuals who have barely exited the scene. And for Hevia, it is then when the subject matter, the bunkers, lose their interest in favour of the non-presence, of the trace of something that has happened and which he records with a certain time lag, as if he were letting it slip through is fingers, as if he had turned up late to a party. Thus, the photo of some bunkers becomes a record of a typical beach activity (but one which has already taken place), that of some bathers who have just set off for home, or that of a open bar bereft of clientele. And stated in a kind of oxymoron, the greatest virtue of Hevia’s work is that of being able to record that which is so difficult and which we could call a use fallen into disuse.

Posted
11.Nov.2016 613 views 99 shares
Author
José Hevia

José Hevia (Mallorca, 1976) studied Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona and photography at the IEFC.  Since 2013, he specialized in architecture photography and has collaborated with international architecture firms, institutions and specialized publications. In 2003-2006 he was part of Quaderns d’architecture i urbanisme (COAC, ed. Lluis Ortega). He is the author of the photographs in the monographs 2G nº56 Ábalos + Sentkiewicz (GG, 2010) and Alejandro de La Sota (Arquia, 2009), among others. He has collaborated with the DOCOMOMO Iberian Foundation documenting Spanish modern architecture. In 2014, he made the photographs of the Spanish pavilion of the 14th Venice Biennial, curated by I. Ábalos, L. Ortega and Q! Estudio. He combines professional practice with personal projects, among them, WELCOME together with Gustau Gili (GG, 2015).

Posted
25.Oct.2016 613 views 99 shares
Author
Moisés Puente

Moisés Puente (León, 1969) studied architecture in A Coruña, Barcelona and Rome. He works as an architectural editor for Editorial Gustavo Gili and as a free-lance translator. He is currently director and editor of 2G. International Architectural Magazine (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne). In 2016 he founded his own publishing house Puente editores devoted to architecture and art essays. Among others, he has edited books on texts by  Mies van der Rohe, Jørn Utzon, Olafur Eliasson, and Philip Ursprung, and has published the monographic study Mies van der Rohe. Houses. He is co-author (with I. Ábalos and J. Llinàs) of the most complete study on the work of the Spanish architect Alejandro de la Sota. In 2010 he was awarded with the FAD Though and Criticism Prize for his professional career as an architectural editor.