Photobook Reviews (W10/2015)
Text by Jörg M. Colberg
Published on Conscientious Photo Magazine, March, 2015.
Life is like a big game, the only complication being that you’re not even asked whether you want to play. You simply get to play. You’re also not told about the rules beforehand. Instead, life just throws things at you, and you better figure out how it all works. Good luck!
Much like many of the various activities we engage with, photography is nothing other than an attempt to make sense of the world, of this game. We make selections and decisions, we photograph this piece of the world and not that one, we preserve those pieces frozen them in time, and we then infer things, or maybe create new ones. Given photography itself has its own rules, it isn’t that clear which parts of what we produce tell us something about the world, which parts speak of ourselves, and which parts are simply just caused by the technology we employ.
This seemingly so complex mixture is a real recipe for disaster if you’re after some sort of truth (just ask the World Press Photo folks). But boy, it’s so much fun, especially if you don’t take it too seriously (which is, of course, bad news for the art types, who usually tend to take things way too seriously). I had to think of this all when looking through Guilherme Gerais‘ Intergalático. I honestly have no idea what the hell I’m looking at here, but it sure is fun.
Intergalático is filled with all kinds of images and symbolism. I don’t think it would really work without any of the symbolism. Even though I’m convinced most of it is utter nonsense, it is exactly what is needed to hold everything together. After all, we’re used to seeing symbols as, well, just that, as markers that help us understand what’s going on. So those symbols here have certainly got to mean something, don’t they?
Often times, it doesn’t really matter whether the rules you give people for your game make fun, as long as you have rules. That appears to be the underpinning of this book. We see photographs and symbols, and they’re clearly put together in a way that doesn’t look completely random. Obviously, there has to be some meaning then. “Obviously.”
Honestly, I don’t know what the hell this book is telling me. What I do know, though, is that the fun, at least for me, is to find myself trying to figure it out every time I look at it. I still haven’t got anywhere, and I doubt I ever will. But unlike all those books that tell me stories I already know, this one has me coming back to it.
Intergalático; photographs by Guilherme Gerais; 184 pages; self-published; 2014
Rating: Photography 3, Book Concept 4, Edit 3, Production 3 – Overall 3.3