Simeón Sáiz Ruiz

01 Mar - 07 Apr 2007

© Simeón Sáiz Ruiz
"Río Júcar, Cuenca, 5 de abril del 2004 al mediodía y Calle de Toledo, Madrid,
1 de junio del 2004, por la mañana". 2007. Photography. 135,4 x 300 cms.
"En con (de)struction"

Gallery Fúcares in Madrid presents a photography exhibition by the artist Simeón Sáiz Ruiz (Cuenca, 1956)
Environmental activists use the term "landscape amnesia" — "such a gradual tarnishing of environmental freshness that will go unnoticed for those who, having been wrapped in that landscape year after year, tend to compare its appearance with what it had looked like the year before. Only by keeping a fresh memory of images of what the natural environment was like a long time ago (perhaps because we do not visit it anymore), is it possible to gauge its current stage of decay."
How could I have imagined when, with my first photographic camera, would navigate up the Júcar, the river whose stretches I would photograph again in such pitiful conditions thirty years later! Nonetheless, the photographs comprising this exhibition, presented in diptych format, do not express any kind of nostalgia —neither for a lost past or for a present that is not, nor are they against architecture and the renovation of our buildings, or against public works, whether big or small infrastructures. They do not criticise the Administration’s passivity wherever there is no advertising value; hence, they do not charge any consumer of being unsupportive or selfish. They do not explain why it happens. They just record that both phenomena take place. Their very interrelation is already a presumption by the author. From that presumption we derive powerful metaphors, since they have dwelled inside us for such a long time —consumerism’s waste products are turned into our new artificial landscapes, our new Nature, whereas actual Nature looks more and more like garbage. Both images merge into one as they get closer to a science-fiction film scenario of dubious taste.
Yet these photographs are not staged. They are simply exposing something in the purest documentary style. What we see is what there is. And as works of art, they try to make the viewer ponder, to break away from the fast-food-consumerist cycle that characterises photography:
"The (fetishistic) fascination with the photograph may be nuanced by implied imaginary relations with the viewed such as inferiority/superiority, culpability/moral distance, and so on –these being conveyed by the framing, angle-of-view, focal-length of lense, etc. However, the imaginary relation may not be held for long. To look at a photograph beyond a certain period of time is to become frustrated: the image which on first looking gave pleasure by degrees becomes a veil behind which we now desire to see. To remain too long with a single image is to loose the imaginary command of the look, to relinquish it to that absent other to whom it belongs by right: the camera. The image now no longer receives our look, reassuring us of our founding centrality, it rather, as it were, avoids our gaze. In still photography one image does not succeed another in the manner of the cinema. As alienation intrudes into our captation by the still image we can only regain the imaginary, and reinvest our looking with authority, by averting our gaze, redirecting it to another image elsewhere. It is therefore not an arbitrary fact that photographs are deployed so that we need not look at them for long, and so that, almost invariably, another photograph is always already in position to receive the displaced look..."
If this vision structure described by Burgin is easy to recognise in most of our uses of photography, I also think that it can be broken, and in my case, it is this attempt that would justify big formats. Nature is all that there is at first sight, yet the viewers will have to seek out the details, and this can take some time. In doing so, as I have said, they will not have to counter explanations or solutions, as such. For the most part, they will imagine that, whichever they are, the more successful they are, the more divergent both images will be, and thus, harder to make them coincide. Meanwhile, we will go on walking through the rubbish and among the garbage heaps where we can also, without a doubt, find beauty.

Tags: Simeón Saiz Ruiz