Blindness, Dogs, Photography, Love
I could tell you about how, years ago, I had this mortal fear of dogs and the idea of taking their portraits occurred to me on my way to the psychoanalyst….or of the experience of confronting something that terrorizes you… or my observations of the peculiar relationships that develop between dogs and their owners and vice versa… or the reflections that occur to me when selecting and editing the pictures. All of these helped me realize that just about everything is imaginary and we make ourselves suffer over absurd things that don’t even exist outside our heads. But I have decided to write something brief and personal that might also help others to understand this book of dog portraits.
My Aunt Agustina and Uncle Paco were blind. They sold lottery tickets for a living. When I was small, I used to think they were the happiest members of the entire family. They were always smiling. I was absolutely convinced they were happy because they were blind. Not seeing each other meant they could touch, smell, caress, feel, and love each other in the most intense and overwhelming way. What is it about blindness that makes it that much easier to achieve happiness and fulfillment?
If blindness is my idea of happiness, then how is it that I came to choose photography?
Is it really true that sight is the most highly developed of the photographer’s senses?
I can only be honest if I write in darkness, and I say “write” because photography, as the word’s origins confirm, is all about writing with light.
Paradox: I need light in order to take the photo but I need darkness to be honest with myself. Who else should I be honest with?
What is it we see when we look at the world, when we look at the other, when we fall in love?
From 1996 to 1998 I made a sequence of photos that I called “On Dogs: the Gaze and Desire.” I wanted to place the dog in a state of subjection, by “subjectifying” its “animal instinct” so I could stare it in the face as its equal. Now, fifteen years later, I realize that the reasons I might have or might have had for taking those pictures do not matter, if, when I share them with others, I achieve what my aunt and uncle had: and that is to stroke your darkness from my darkness. I just might talk myself into believing that you and I are seeing the same thing, even if just for a moment, that you and I are feeling the same thing, that I am you….
“…In order to arrive at that which thou knowest not, thou must go by the way thou knowest not…”
St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel.