Exhibition at the Fuel Cafe and Denver streets

I would like to thank the NGO The Wonderbound for their great job printing the photos (31.5″ x 23.6″) of my serie “Insane”. A result of a performance I organized with dancers and homeless people the last February on the streets of Denver (CO). The result of this work is being exhibited for almost two months in the Fuel Cafe in Denver. You still can visit it there. And not for long time because the exhibition is moving to the streets of Denver! Public spaces for solidarity causes. The photos will be exhibit outside the walls of The Wonderbound in the main center of Five Points neighborhood next week.

The inauguration coincided with a fundraising event for the Contemporary Dance NGO. I would also like to express my admiration to the dancers to be so open minded and have a great attitude with all their neighbors, mainly vagabonds, who spend hours and hours walking down those streets stopping right in front of their building very attracted to their art. Is easy to see members from the Dance Organization sharing breaks with a group of homeless people out on the street while smoking some cigarettes and having nice time.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS
The Dance NGO is located in a very cool basement with huge windows facing the Park Av. just in front of the Denver Rescue Mission shelter and sharing block with the Saint Francis Center. I was walking down the streets of an extremely frozen Denver evening (0º Fahrenheit not Celsius!), just after having had interviews with some users of Saint Francis, when I saw those brightly windows and beautiful dancers moving and almost flying very smoothly. I couldn’t separate my fascinated face from those windows. I was cleaning the mist every five seconds. Was wonderful! The trainer laughed of my reaction and invited me to enter. Once inside, I took some shots and I kept them in my mind for the following hours. The same night, in that moment when one is between two worlds, just trespassing the border between consciousness and subconsciousness, I opened my eyes very excited and experimented the sweet taste of a great idea. I wrote it down in my note book and went back to sleep with a big smile. The note: “Performance with dancers and homeless people on the streets of Denver”. I would like to add that my idea was already a need. Is something usual to see homeless people watching with huge eyes through those windows, as I did. So I just made possible a process that was natural itself through my photography. Another example of this existent dialog between homelessness and art is the Reach Studio project from the Redline Gallery.

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”

THE IDEA
Insane is just a serie of a bigger project I am working on. The idea is to show the dialog between different groups that cohabit in the block between Park Av. / Curtis St. / Arapahoe St. and 24th St. at Denver, CO. This area is formed for the two main shelters for homeless people in the city, the Redline Gallery, The Wonderbound, one of the main spots for drug dealers and Ruth, a very nice and sharp old women of 102 years old, who I had the pleasure to meet few months ago and the last neighbor that actually lives in the block with her family. She has resisted every single change in the area since more than 60 years ago. By then, more houses formed the block and also the restaurant of her parents, that was located in the intersection Park Av, Broadway and Arapahoe St, where she spent a long time working as a waitress.

portrait
mappuppy
believer
nu

All of them, artists, homeless people, workers, drug addicts /dealers and neighbors come from very different worlds, live in different social status, have different nationalities and share the same space in the city. This project pretends to document their lives from a very close and honest look, by sharing time and experiences with each one of them, making some projects possible through art and creativity. Also showing their opinions about these days and history of the neighborhood.

I love to cross visible walls and invisible borders. I believe in the close look and time shared with the people I talk about.  I enter in their shelters, in their houses, in their daily dramas and happy moments. Somehow, also in their lives and learn from their experiences and their perception of the world.

sādhu

In Hinduism, a sādhu (Sanskrit: साधु sādhu, “good; good man, holy man”) is a religious ascetic or holy person. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), the fourth and final aśrama (stage of life), through meditation and contemplation of brahman. Sādhus often wear saffron-coloured clothing, symbolising their sanyāsa (renunciation). This way of life is open to women; the female form of the word is sādhvī साध्वी. In 2014 an all-female akhada (group of sadhus) was formed; it is believed to be the first such group in India.

* Naga sadhu in Pashupatinath temple, Nepal

* text: Wikipedia
* photos: Lena Prieto

1st Finalist in La Vanguardia Press Grant

I am the 1st Finalist of the Grant “Connect to Photojournalism” of Generalitat de Catalunya and La Vanguardia press with my work about the Homelessness in Denver, CO. Congratulations to the winner Luis Tato and the rest of finalists That gives me even more energy to keep in Documentary Photography world.

LAVANGUARDIA

And here the slideshow:

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And here what I finally didn’t presented:

Did I choose the best subject, perhaps Rrom community in Romania or Transgender people in Hawaii? How about the edition? If I would choose some other photos in different order? What I clearly see an reaffirm is that to be a good photographer doesn’t just means to take great shots nowadays.

5thoughts

 

OjodePez Photo Meeting Barcelona is an international photography meeting organised by La Fábrica and La Virreina Image Center inspired by OjodePez magazine.

The meeting aims to spark dialogue and debate between specialistsphotographers and participants with an interest in documentary photography.

photomeeting ojodepez

 

planet of apes

I reaffirmed this idea listening the master class of Joan Fontcuberta. He made an accurate reflection about the work in process of different artists that are exploring what, no more than a decade ago, was called a “copia disconforme”. In English would be something like not being agree with the result of a developed (film) photography, usually because of  a technical problem from the Laboratory. Fontcuberta used that analogy to present works where the lack of quality in the images was the main characteristic or the style of the projects. A good example is the Coca Cola campaign called “Let’s look at the world a little differently”

 

 

photomeeting ojodepez2

 

“Here is the funny thing about Photography. Sometimes, just occasionally, someone at the photograph look at the viewer and it works! And this is the case whether the look… looks! That’s the mystery of photography, that’s why I am so excited about being a photographer. You never quite know how you are gonna get a good picture.” Martin Parr

martin parr

 

And after listening that, I found myself with this photo (right) and of course, I shot it ;)

socks and sandals tribute

Martin Parr                                                                        Lena Prieto

 

003

 

Who decides where the Magazine will be sold is the distributor not the Graphic Editors. These ones like Mauro Bedoni (COLORS), Erik Vroons (GUP), Andreas Müller Pohle (European Photography) or Arianna Rinaldo (Ojodepez), who know really well which is their target and have a great vision, don’t know where their printed editions are gonna be sold. Is so common though, that the potential customers ask where they can buy the new number and the editors just don’t know what to answer. That doesn’t make any sense to me if, after all that work defining which is their tendency or style, they can not even decide to offer the Magazine to the profile of customer who can be actually interested.  So, they not only  lose those customers who are already interested, but those ones who could be their new demand. Maybe it is just a symptom that the printed editions are in decline.

colors

COLORS Magazine

 

004PHOTOMEETING OJODEPEZ

 

I felt completely identify with Martin Kollar talking about his work in progress and his future projects. We are agree in the opinion that having a clear idea of what one wants to show is crucial to have a good result. One must knows what wants to show and visualize it somehow before to shoot it.

But that doesn’t mean that one knows clearly which the result will be. Furthermore, if  the result of your work is exactly the same as you imagined from the beginning, you probably have been limiting the creative process and also being dishonest with the reality you have been surrounded by. Is also a humble attitude to let the reality to surprise yourself more than to find in the reality whatever you want to defend in your work. Letting flow the view as who you are more than the mind following your ideas of what you want to get. This process is probably much more enriching, not just as a photographer but as a human being.

martin kollar

 

 

“My experience tells me that when I think in the next project is always different of what it’s gonna be. The next thing I am going to do is just imagination and it ends up being something different. I mean, I don’t know how is it for other people but to me is a very strange  combination between knowing perfectly what I want, how is gonna looks like and not really knowing what will be. What I do in the future is kind of correcting what I failed in the previous works. So is a kind of a continuation while I’m starting something new.” Martin Kollar

 

005

 

Maybe sounds obvious but I use to see a lot of people, include myself sometimes, trying to find THE PROJECT, THE IDEA. That thought that comes from outside. I mean, it is a result of wondering what the Magazines, The Contests, the buyers and the people in general is gonna like. What’s original or unseen. I really believe that this logic can works sometimes, but not in long term. Even talking about photojournalism (where ones must be loyal to the truth itself) one must  focus in something that makes vibrate oneself. In other words, the cause to make that “click” has to be meaningful for the photographer. Even shooting an empty white room.

Then I listen Stanislas Guigui and I find the answer. Basically, he doesn’t give a shit about what the public likes or not. At least, less than others. He somehow, is talking about himself. The empathy that he has with the subjects he photographs takes his documentary to another level. The way he looks and connect with them is authentic because is like the air he breathes, they both need each other.

guigui

Guigui shares life with the people who takes photos of. They are part of his life. He never disconnects. His photography is who he is. He is not even trying to change the world or anything that naif. He needs to give voice and visibility to the people who used to be labeled as “marginal or different”.

Following that idea, I remember another thought from Fontcuberta: to be a good photographer you must be an obsessed person, and follow that obsession to the limits of the illness. Then, doesn’t really matter if you are talking about gypsies in Romania or a pot with flowers. You’ll be at least, more interesting than the rest who are just “Trying to find”. You “have already found”. The extreme of that could be Diana Arbus, and I also think that sometimes, limits are good to be respected.

dancing without roof

“We are passionate creatures who belong anywhere else. This is exactly what we were meant to be and exactly what we were put in this Earth to do. And how fortunate it is that we were put all at the same place and at the same time with the same passionate vision.

There is no reason to do it and to not share it. Our art that we are creating was meant to be shared and to move people. And you really see it in our shows because people go and they allow themselves to turn off their phones and really surrendered themselves to what we are producing and giving to them. And then, afterwards… you see the tears and the emotions, and the creative ideas and the thoughts that are stimulated by our art. And the conversations that goes hours into the night because of….one movement! It’s incredible stuff. What we bring to the world is very unique. And I just feel so blessed to do it.”  - Meredith Strathmeyer, founder dancer of The Wonderbound

 

 

The enormous garage doors at the Wonderbound dance studio in Denver beg any curious passersby to glance through the glass panels.

Since moving to its new location in Five Points last year, the dance company has attracted the attention of many people in the neighborhood, including homeless people.

After seeing various exchanges between artistic organisations (RedLine Gallery and Wonderbound Studio)  and the homeless community I wanted to explore what happens if you mix both worlds.

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