Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gare do Infinito, the book

Gare do Infinito by Adauto Araujo

(Click on "full screen" to preview)

In 1989 I was selected to participate in a program offered by the São Paulo State Culture Ministry in the Tres Rios Cultural Center. We were presented with workshops and lectures by some of the most renowned photographers in Brazil and were given 12 rolls of film to develop a personal project. The first pictures I took that would eventually be included in this book were part of this assignment and the resulting exhibit at the Museu da Imagem e do Som in São Paulo. Even though I initially planned on photographing people, when I was in Santos visiting my parents I somehow got drawn into the empty nocturnal landscapes so familiar from my childhood. The pictures that I showed in that exhibit are the ones of gardens and fountains at dusk.
The next year, the State decided to change the name of the Cultural Center to Oswald de Andrade in honor of the Brazilian Modernist poet. They offered a similar program with different presenters coordinated by Rubens Fernandes Junior. We were given another dozen rolls of film, but this time we had to somehow link our project to the works of Oswald de Andrade: a major task, in which I believe most of us took a lot of poetic license, finding the most convoluted ways to relate our photographs to his poetry. I returned to Santos but took my walks a step further and ended up at the carnival. The photographs of empty rides and light structures are from these dates. The exhibit this time would be at Galeria Fotoptica, a much smaller venue, I could include only three pictures in the show. “Gare do Infinito,” a chapter in Andrade’s Memórias Sentimentais de João Miramar in which he remembers his father’s death, became an enchanted place where we prepared to take off to Infinity.

Still, I felt like I had not yet found what I was looking for. After all, I had wanted to photograph the people but, so far, had not encountered the right environment. So I went back to the park with the few rolls of film left over from the workshops, but this time I focused solely on the people, coming full circle back to my first ideas. But then something tragic happened: I ruined the material in processing, or at least so it seemed at the time. It looked like every mistake I could have made was showing on those strips of negative: spots, stains, scratches … a disaster. Feeling terribly disappointed with myself, I threw the negatives in a box and never looked at them again. Even though Photoshop was not a word at the time, I couldn’t just toss the whole thing in the garbage can.

Years later I moved to the USA and left many things in storage at my parent’s home, among them all my negatives. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago, my interest in Photography rekindled, that I found this box and started to slowly go through them. The photos of Santos were scattered within the chaotic mess of negatives, and it took me a while to warm up to the project again, fiddle with different formats and processes, and finally realize that all the pictures from that period were part of a whole. Gare do Infinito thus became the starting point in the journey of self-discovery, and what better place to begin than the gardens of Santos, the main stage of my childhood.
I then hired my son Caetano, a Photoshop wizard, to undo my many disastrous mistakes of years ago, and I am very happy with his work. Now these digital images have become the new negatives, and I am ready to re-bury the old ones in a box - only this time better hidden so it won’t be discovered for centuries, perhaps forever.