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José Muñoz

Boundaries and photography (2006)

Catalog introduction, Efímeros


Documentary is a style in which authors, by way of their heightened sensitivity, express what they have seen while also representing on another level their interior world. This capacity for representation on different levels plays a significant role in the development of the photographic process, since it is in precisely this act of sculpture, opened up by the creativity and intellectual substance of the author, that we discover its true value.


The intellectual process that Jose Guerrero has followed on the edge of the city stems from his initial choice of theme - the growth of the city and its spatial boundaries both external and internal – and leads to an overview not of space, but of time, through the medium of photography.


But what are the true boundaries of the city, of our cities? What were these in the past? The physical boundaries that we see on the outskirts of cities are an illusion, since a broader concept of history brings back the memories of other boundaries buried beneath our cities. Each time we dig up our cities, the map is redrawn. It is here and now that we prove that there is no space and no mind in today’s world that has not been urbanised, nor any natural space that has not (in some way) been constructed, like the full-scale map that Borges’ geographers concocted to satisfy their king’s extravagant, groundless vanity.


This physical boundary which until a few years ago has been immobile is, to the extent of my knowledge and understanding, the same one that Jose Guerrero studies in his photographs. The concrete boundaries of his city are the same ones that I lean on, since we both engage in the same space and at almost the same time. We have all been taken aback by this unstoppable and overwhelming process that we have seen evolve and expand beyond anything we could have imagined. His photographs are the here and now. They are a concrete cross-section of a given moment in a space wide enough to reflect a country, united in its forms, its interests and its culture.


Of course, it is clear that there is meaning to be uncovered in these images. The interior world and the memories of the author are the basis for that search and perhaps also for the possible readings of the complex universe of boundaries that is represented.


The visible boundary, the only one with which, in theory, photography can engage, is the basis of the wide-ranging questions Guerrero poses about other kinds of boundaries. In this way the photographer works in the opposite direction to the writer in order to arrive, often, at the same place. While the writer creates literary images and concepts with words, the photographer sculpts those same concepts with light. They speak to the intellect, as the visual form whispers to the emotions, creating an essentially literary discourse.


It was Kuleshov, in another time and place, though also photographic, who discovered the power of connotation that can be derived from a simple sequence. In this way he created a visual discourse which was clearly narrative in character and aimed essentially at our emotions. This is the narration which Guerrero is engaging with, conscious of the influence of the visual sequence on the potential readers and subjects ultimately.


Meanwhile, the borders of the different countries have been finally drawn up in the still recent 20th century, the cities have opened themselves up across spaces we still thought of as barren, and where the edge of countryside/city, rural/urban was easily recognisable until not so long ago. This space in our memory, and to a large extent in our childhood, has now disappeared. Even at this extremity our lives and our cities seem to become more like other city models, standardised and normalised as in the current ideology of speculation.


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