Me and Mr. Strand.


In the book “Understanding a photograph” by John Berger (organization and introduction by Geoff Dyer and translation by Paulo Geiger) (Cia das Letras. São Paulo. 2017) (an authentic treatise on photography made known by master Juan Esteves, São Paulo) I read and reread it a few times (good things have to be tasted homeopathically) the ‘reading’ of the photo on the left of 1944 (made three years before this writter was born) by Paul Strand in Vermont, New England-USA, and the that you can read there with all the letters impresses me, touches me a lot.

Berger says of Strand’s work: “His best photographs are unusually dense – not in the sense of being overloaded or obscure, but in the sense that they are filled with an unusual amount of substance per square centimeter. And all this substance becomes the essence of the object’s life. Take the famous portrait of Mr. Bennet. His jacket, his shirt, his beard on his chin, the wood of the house behind him, the air around him become, in this image, the very face of his life, of which his facial expression is the concentrated spirit”.

Left: Mr. Bennett (Vermont, New England-USA) (1944) by Paul Strand.

Right: Onion harvester (Casa Branca, SP-Brasil) (2019) Antonio Mozeto.

The photo on the right that I took in 2019 of an onion harvester in Casa Branca (SP-Brazil) has a much more explicit surface given that the worker is in his own working environment. And, without due permission, but with due boldness, ‘reading’ my photo, I make Berger’s words about the current Paul Strand photo mine: all the substance of the photo is in the expressive look of the worker, in a marked face due to the hardships of hard work and the properties of his surroundings: the harsh and striking light of the day in full sun, the onion harvesting bucket, the onion sacks lined up behind him, two companions of toil and the bus that brings him a lot early for the harvest and takes you home at the end of another day of this person’s hard daily workday.

As Berger rightly said (operate citato) “in the relationship between photography and words, the first yearns for an interpretation, and words usually supply it. The photograph, irrefutable as evidence, but weak in meaning, gains meaning from words”.

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