2nd INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE MONDO GALERIA
aiming to discover new talent in the world of contemporary photography creation
1st PRIZE: Jon Gorospe
Project: "A MAGNETIC NORTH"
I - The only imaginable stage for our poetry
[...] and we take off
On the northern roads, the head and I,
Strange crewmembers embarking on
A miserable route, roads erased by dust and
Land of flies and little lizards, dried brush
And blizzards of sand, the only imaginable stage
For our poetry.
Roberto Bolaño, «The donkey ».
A great part of our visual education is encoded in the landscape. We soon learn to read
it, interpret it and we become sensitive to the emotions it awakens. What is more, at
some point, we start translating emotions into landscapes.
In North, Jon Gorospe explores the symbolic and transcendental tradition of landscape
to bring it up to date and to speak from that angle. Not only is landscape present in his
images as a subject, but also – and above all – as an embracing space that refers
constantly to vastness: the vastness of what is huge and the vastness of our inner self.
The inner reality that Gorospe aims at and which he unfolds in this series is at once
enigmatic and tumultuous. He has used a particular idea of the sacred on more than one
occasion in order to refer to it, this being the assembly of beauty and terror (Rilke) or of
beauty and its revelations (the epiphanies it provokes).
In order to do this, Gorospe turns to a series of black and white landscapes alternating
several colour photographs in which the only thing we can distinguish are transitions
between colours. These gradients have a twofold function. On one hand, just like a
map’s legend, they are the key to the series: they provide us with the coordinates that
guide its interpretation. On the other hand, they also represent something ethereal and
formless, a beyond, a behind.
Another element with a strategic role is present in the landscape images: scale, or rather
the absence of it, also understood as its dissolution from the perspective of fractal
geometry. That which is big and that which is small are intertwined and indistinct but
equally vertiginous, equally out of reach.
II. De magnete
Many of the images from North could have been easily taken close to the South Pole or
any alpine mountain range. However, they come from the north, «the confusing and
magnetic north of donkeys and poets». What makes this piece of information important
is that the north is in fact the context the photographer inhabits and at the same one of
the objects of his research, or, more vehemently said, of his obsessions.
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood has written some formidable prose about how the
attraction for the north is present in Western imagery. She believes that «The north
focuses our anxieties. Turning to face north, we enter our own unconscious. Always, in
retrospect, the journey north has the quality of a dream».
Likewise, this thought can be found in the writing of Roberto Bolaño, who believed
that the north is a vanishing point and a metaphysical space that marks the beginning of
an adventure. It was so for William Gilbert, the English scientist who discovered at the
end of the 16th century that the mysterious direction in which compasses pointed was
not caused by the material they were made of but instead due to the fact that our planet
is a gigantic magnet. He proved this theory in his work known as De magnete,
magneticisque corporibus, et de magno magnete tellure [On the Magnet and Magnetic Bodies,
and on That Great Magnet the Earth].
Since Gilbert’s ground-breaking discovery, our knowledge about magnetic poles has
kept on growing. We now know that they are mobile and that they shake, that they are
not quite in the same place geographic poles are, that they often swap places, affect
sleep, cause the Northern Lights and modify the direction of light, which in turn
changes our perception of the latter.
North turned into a mystery by Gilbert. A magnetic, mineral, archaic and ever-
changing north in which Gorospe has now tested the different forms of amazement and
Project: "A MAGNETIC NORTH"
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