Thursday, December 8

(Photographic) journey to the depths of the night: Nacho Alonso from Vigo portrays the city’s fringes in first person


Not even all the pictures of Essay on the night They were taken at night. But the night crosses them. “The night as a place”, clarifies the photographer from Vigo Nacho Alonso (1975), author of an intense, raw and delicate volume, overwhelming. This, his first photobook, explores the shadows of the city, travels to the bottom of the dark, submerges itself in the wild areas of artificial paradises, transits the marginal.

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Alonso portrays his friends, floors with chipped walls, faces and legs, windows, the headlights of a car in the background. “Dawn is for prosperous people. At night you find the defeated, tired workers. But the night is above all a way of looking, a tone”, he considers.

Essay on the night there are just over 100 pages of black and white photos, the result of “a lot of time of work”. Almost a life.



Publisher Juan Gallego, whose Solar publishing house opens with this careful volume, warns him at the outset: “It is not a documentary photography project, it does not show an external gaze, allegedly objective. Nacho’s work is born from experience, from proximity, from direct knowledge”. It is the fruit of at least 20 years, when Alonso dates the oldest of the images. “The book does not come about by chance”, he explains by telephone to elDiario.es, “it has a lot of work behind it. And although there was the option to publish it earlier, it would have been a mistake. He has needed all this time.” The work has settled. From an initial group of images, he has been composing a dour but moving poem to the other side. Immune to the passage of time: a friend of the author accurately described it as timeless.

Essay on the night It starts outdoors. Capture the back of the urban. Blurs buildings where light is barely visible behind the glass. There are alleys and there is a human presence in them. Sometimes elusive, sometimes frontal. Little by little the photographer approaches and goes through doors. Portraits appear. “They are my friends, environments through which I moved,” he says. Some glances at the camera give him away: the photographer is not a tourist, there is trust here. And that harshness presides over some scenes, related to drug use or what can be interpreted as street prostitution.

Analog versus digital

The violent framing, the fat grain, the blurred look, are combined with the diaphanous when men and women pose for Alonso. But aesthetics does not precede technique. “Blur is not something I think about before shooting, it’s not decisions. It is given by the situation in which you photograph”, he says. At night, once again. And because of the mechanics of the chosen work tools, an analog camera and black and white film, and one condition: the light is always available at the time and in the place. There is no room for artifice.



“You decide to photograph what surrounds you, what is closest to you. That and the camera and analog development are the only prior decisions,” she adds. And also practically the only thing that, beyond the images, the viewer receives. There is a title –Essay on the night-, a dedication -“to Olalla”- and a brief page of credits. The strength lies in the photo, which avoids the optical clarity of the digital. “We are used to the digital image, which is almost grim”, Alonso argues, “but this is the night. Black and white and analog were the logical choice.” Naked life, after all, is confusing. Nothing is clear.

Alonso remits responsibility for the title to its editor, Juan Gallego, together with Ignacio Pérez-Jofre, promoter of Solar. “It may sound ambitious, I know,” he admits. And yet, there is something of an essay, an investigation of poetic echo and in the first person, in the book. “The night is very theatrical. I like your contrasts. But a window light portrait is also beautiful,” he says. “How could it be otherwise, we have taken the load of black to the limit”, explains the Galician about the edition of Essay on the night. The black to the limit.

The first presentation of the photobook will be on October 19 at Espacio Sirvent, in Vigo. In November he will be at the FFoco Festival in A Coruña. Pontevedra, Santiago de Compostela, Madrid or Barcelona will also host the premiere. Solar’s next reference will be a book of stories and drawings by the artist Din Matamoro (Vigo, 1958).





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