The night of Saturday, February 4, was celebrated at the home of Antonio G. Rodiles, precursor of the “Estado de SATS” project in the municipality of Playa, Havana, the award ceremony for the first edition of the Independent Social Photography Contest “Country of Pixels” initiative launched mid-2011 from the site of the same name by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, one of the most talented photographers of our generation. Once the call for entries was put out, every one brought their projects and their ideas, in the most heterogeneous way, in which everyone came, through the most different life experiences, to the doors of this always exciting art.
In my particular case, I came to Photography urged by necessity. It was a summer night in 2000, I enlisted to go to the local cinema to see the movie showing — “Sapphires, blue madness”, I remember — and poking around I didn’t find in my holy house one peso, the single peso needed for entrance. That night I held back my desires and while I undressed my mind was making plans about how to remedy this disaster. I reflected on the serious fact of living in a country where a doctor, with already 6 years of work experience behind him, didn’t have one miserable peso — I’m speaking literally — to go see a movie.
Then Photography came to my aid and over more than a decade fed the flesh and spirit. At the same time it saved daily life, Photography molded my vision of life to its code; it taught me never to go first, before any issue, before taking sides or judging look all around, probe each edge.
It taught me to always look twice, that every question, like every person, every context, is always too complex to attempt a synthesis at first glance. It reminded me that light has texture, its breezes, its unique smells and own spells; that life is perpetuated in its colors, but everything has light and shadows, even black and white includes a beautiful gamete of intermediate grays that enrich and will always be worth discovering.
I found that every matter, even the most elusive and hostile, has its human angle, kind and beautiful, when viewed from the exact point; that beauty lives in the most unsuspected corners, not only in the innocence of the flower — which touches you by its natural state of being — but also the human beauty-creation, which the sensitive lens arranges with patience from the pestilent ruin of the grotesque tenement.
It taught me that each scream, kiss, blow, jump, smile, wink, hand outstretched or in a fist, are unrepeatable miracles of life, in their unceasing flight, concatenates and can be loved in that one way: intense and ephemeral. It invited me to not lose my focus in human misery but to search for the source of every look, including from the meanest of men, the hidden spark of the divine being.
So it will always be worth the pain to fight to live “Country of Pixels”; because the images of a people are as good as their tears, their words or their innermost dreams. It will always be worth it, so that the children of tomorrow will know how much pain we had to pay to heal the hatred, to not swallow the poison they put to our lips, those who, dark and sinister, today we want confined to absolute poverty of the soul.
February 6 2012