«I go forward in search of chance meetings and other life experiences. The portrait is born from a fragile and silent intimacy that struggles against the sinking into oblivion. It is the “cannibalisation” of the other, of his difference and of our common humanity. The fusion, the appropriation, the transfiguration of beauty, grace, and dignity, that makes us resemble one another a little more. A little more eternal as well. Lend me your face, let me gaze at you, admire you, possess you, take hold of your soul so we can all live within it, just as the American Indians believed they had surrendered the essence of their beings, stolen forever by the lens of Edward Curtis.
What began a few years ago, hesitantly and by accident, has now become a complete way of life. From my studio in Madrid, I moved further out, past the houses on the outskirts of the city and now I have become a travelling studio on the roadside and along country by-roads.
I choose subjects who are alone and anonymous, but who belong to a clearly defined social clan, with roots set deep in ancestral culture. Individuals who are sure of their identity at a time when ours is becoming indistinct. People from tribes far away from the epicentre and material wellbeing, from the noise and uniformity of our urban society. Faces that glow with a different light and exceptional energy. I want to break the silence that surrounds them while preserving the sense of mystery at the same time. Exploring these margins (or rather the “somewhere else”), is my way of recognizing the importance of the silence that is constructed socially, but above all, of paying homage to these “other ourselves” testament to an existence that is as exclusive to them as it is unique. They are filled with extraordinary life-force».
Photo and video portraits of the last coal miners in Asturias (Northern Spain). The last convulsions of a mining saga which began in the 19th century and that forged the industrial history of the country in an extreme struggle for social rights against the bleak working conditions in the mines. Immigrants from central Europe or from Portugal, this community is destined to disappear in 2018, following the directive by the Spanish Ministry of Industry and the completion of the “Coal Plan” by the European Community.
Portraits of the labourers working on the huge Spanish olive, fruit and wine estates (Extremadura, Andalusia and Rioja), legacy of the latifundia, the great farming estates of ancient Rome.
These labourers, mainly nomadic gypsies from both sides of the Guadiana River, whose principle activity has always been horse-breeding, travel, moving their livestock during the picking and harvesting seasons.
Women, children, adolescents and the elderly ensure the livelihood and organization of the family community, camping on the outskirts of the estates with their animals. They are the last guardians of an ancient lifestyle that manages to survive through the precarious conditions of seasonal labour. Faces bearing the traces of a harsh life, austerity and dignity.
Pierre Gonnord is represented by Galerìa Juana de Aizpuru, Madrid
01 – Pierre Gonnord – Armando, 2009 – Courtesy of the artist and of the Gallery Juana de Aizpuru
02 – Pierre Gonnord – Vengador, 2014 – Courtesy of the artist and of the Gallery Juana de Aizpuru
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