Jean-Philippe Imbert, professor at the School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies at Dublin City University and curator of the exhibition – a selection from the larger body of work India 50/50 – that had its world premiere at the Delhi Photo Festival 2015, talks of the work and its meanings in the extract from a larger piece below.
The exhibition will be next previewing in Bangalore at the Tasveer Gallery on the 10th of December 2015. It will remain on view at the gallery until 8th January 2016.
Space Challenges Modern Man
In 2010, Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo spent 50 days India, travelling the length and breadth of the country, embarked on a visual wandering driven by a visual wondering, taking photographs of spaces and of places he encountered. These tribulations were rhythmed by a sense of having found the photograph of the day, a feeling which lead to moving on somewhere else. In so doing, Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo almost re-activated the crucial creative strategy of chance to which a number of surrealist artists were associated with. For the surrealists, chance represented a release from the constraints of the rational world that had parallels with their interests in dreams. For Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo, this randomness in destination was, on the opposite, a dialogue – an ongoing dialogue born out of the osmosis happening between the artist, his camera and the land of India.
In 2014, a book was born, India 50 / 50. The book is meticulously produced in Mexico with Irma Aponte Acosta, finely crafted by the most experienced bookmakers of Verona in Italy. In it, the poetic discourse of the visual narrative offered by Alejandro is celebrated by Mexican poetess Elsa Cross, and by Algerian academic Fewzia Bedjaoui. Mexico, Italy, Algeria and France are all meeting in this book in order to celebrate India. Not the India we are commonly provided with, as India 50/50 shows.
One of the discourses provided by these images is an attempt to fathom the morphing meaning of space and place in our era of “incredulity”. The world we are in is a world that is fully available to us, in the sense that us humans have fully explored its surface and brought all but the most remote corners of the Earth into an all-encompassing informational and economic system. Nonetheless, the meanings of the places through which we move have been subject to unprecedented levels of instability and Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo focuses on this instability. Although there may be no virgin territories or terra incognitae waiting to be discovered (short of outer spaces and the deepest depths of the ocean), Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo does a lot of work at the interstices between established domains, whose borders are constantly being called into question. If we recognise these spaces (A fun fair, a road, the green room of a cinema, a stairway, a boat), if we recognise these places (an urban strand, a main square, a urbanscape), we see them differently. This is because the visual eye of the camera and the visual I of Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo generate a discourse of transgression. Transgression is defined, etymologically, as a crossing of borders. This discourse provides the best model for spatial thinking in the post-postmodern era India is entering in. Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo’s narratives echo, on a visual mode, the contemporary academic discourse of geocritics, insofar as each photograph emphasizes the importance of thinking in terms of borderlands, interstitial zones, and hybrid identities, those spaces that occupy the margins between established domains and call into question the legitimacy of established borders.
In the people section, the audience will enter into the realm of hybridity: masks, shapes, the estranged gaze, slumber and trance. A man staring at you also takes you onto another journey, that of space, a space which is de-territorialised because the anamorphous is ubiquitous. A plain landscape is veiled three times, a hanging bird is dead or sleeping, and space starts deconstructing itself three times to arrive at the title photograph which stands for the epitome of 50/50-ness where a decapitated statue turns its back on a head being built, supported by a careful scaffold. Mankind has scaffolded the world, India is scaffolding itself into the future and the lines, the dashes are back.
At the heart of 50/50, you have a dash. This dash separates or links, this dash is the one of transgression, but it is only semiotic. Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo goes beyond the semiotic and leaves place to transgress space and allows visual emptiness to constantly re-generate itself like the phoenix of Uroboros. The phoenix needs air and fire. Air and fire are waiting for you in the grey alcove. The visual narrative of this exhibition as well as the visual discourse of Alejandro Gómez de Tuddo reiterate once more on an artistic mode Heidegger’s conviction that “space challenges modern man”.