2016 - 2017
Mexico; Guatemala, Guatemala; Nicaragua; El Salvador; Honduras; Panama; Costa Rica
"[…]an invisible landscape conditions the visible one; everything that moves in the sunlight is driven by the lapping wave enclosed beneath the rock's calcareous sky. "
— Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
I created the images of Volcán while travelling with my girlfriend and two sons across Mexico and Central America, during the winter and summer of 2016. While traversing countries I had never been, I found myself feeling both alien to and belonging to these places, detecting as much distinct local cultural traits than signs of a globalized world in which we all share similar desires: to be connected to others, to have opportunities, to benefit from the wealth of the contemporary western world, to be of our time, to make our own choices.
The photographs that I selected and from which I created this series tries to express this observation through portraiture, landscapes, and scenes of daily local life. Through the series, the motif of the volcano is recurring, as a sort of metaphor for this force that act underneath the surface and that we rarely acknowledge as the source of change and transformation. Similar to the magma and the tectonic movements that has shaped the territories of central America, a strong Americanization is acting on all local cultures of the world, transforming them, and highlighting the delicate balance between tradition and modernity in an increasingly globalized world.
The signs of these changes appear, somewhat subtly, in my photographs: the image printed on a blanket covering a pickup, in a Guatemalan market, shows a northern hunting scene; the stars on a young Panamanian boy’s t-shirt reminds us of the American flag; the hat and general style of another, older, young man, reminds me of my own Montreal photo students. In other instances, local attributes like the specific mountainous topography, the ever presence of religion or the warm light of the south, are evoked in details of the photographs.
Volcán ultimately leads to a constructed geography, which evades any desire to locate specifically the places that are presented. Instead, my goal is to build a poetical series in which the sequence echoes the feeling of discovery and surprise that one feels when going to new places. If photography makes visible the things it seems to reproduce, the reality that it presents cannot be named completely. Thus, my images illuminate one another, like luminous flashes in the silence and tumult of the Americas.