A new section of the TerraProject website exploring the world of the photo collectives. In recent years, collectives have seen a renewed proliferation, an heterogeneous creative and experimentation push. It is not easy to define what exactly is a collective, as every reality is strictly connected to the context in which is born and by the individualities that form it. This sections is a place for the investigation and thorough elaboration of these realities. Every article will be dedicated to a collective, its structure, its working methodology and its narrative inventions.
Collective power is on!
LEGGI IN ITALIANO
RUIDO - Barcelona
Photographers: Toni Arnau, Pau Coll, Edu Ponces
Graphic designer: Roger P Gironès
Journalist/writer: Alejandra Cukar
Fundraiser: Luciana Castelo
The collective Ruido was founded informally in 2004 by a group of young photographers in Barcelona, who, not yet professionals, decided to come together to develop photo projects and to grow together.
In 2006 they formed a cultural association and began to teach photography classes. Slowly, the courses are structured in a real school, which gives an economic base for photographers who undertake training in this area.
A few years later the collective finds a juridical form, founding an NGO, a structure that allows it to cover all the various areas in which the members of the group are engaged. Then, at the end of 2011, some photographers leave the collective, and begin to manage the school independently, creating a new project, an emanation of past experiences, the "Centre de Fotografia Documental de Barcelona" - www.cfdbarcelona.com.
Ruido today is composed of 3 photographers, one graphic designer, one fundraiser and a writer working on several fronts developed over the years with great dedication and a strong sense of social responsibility. "Las 3 patas" (the 3 feet), as they define them, i.e. the design and realization of long-term documentary photography essays, the online magazine 7.7, and the projects of "participatory photography", i.e. courses and workshops done within the community or with groups living in problematic contexts that have difficulty in representing or perceiving their social unity. An example is the long lead work in several prisons of the region.
The funds with which they can produce their projects mainly derive from institutional public and private funds on cultural production and social intervention, in addition to the more classic editorial clients.
Given the circumstances, it is easy to see that the shape of the collective was almost a necessity for them, deeply believing in a social and political function of their work. The photographers do not have an independent professional life, everything is done for the collective.
Such an approach is expressed also in the more classic production of photoreportages. They clearly state that what interests them is not simply the pictures, but the necessity of the story and the impact that these can have on the concerned community. This is the reason why they develop many projects working with local newspapers and spreading their images with their own efforts precisely in the area of intervention.
The narrative experimentations are constantly changed, for each project a team is formed, using a variety of professional figures from within the collecting or from the network that orbits around it. Many projects are long-term interventions such as "En el camino", produced in a year and a half of investigation and research on migration from Central America to the United States. Many smaller stories, different narrative lines regularly published in a newspaper of El Salvador, that after so much work have merged into a single body, producing a book, an exhibition and a variety of communication activities to raise awareness in Central American countries.
Another "leg" of the collective is the online magazine "7.7" - www.7dot7.net - produced by a team composed of two people of the collective and other external collaborators. The magazine publishes high quality reportages, giving emphasis to works of great social value. Although they can not afford a fee for the photographer, the editorial staff engages in an annual competition that awards a prize of 2000 euros.
And here we are at the last but not least "paw": the participatory photography projects. The basic philosophy is to provide the basic technical skills to the subjects of their interventions and by doing this, to be able to tell in a more sincere way these contexts, with a language that stems directly from within these. There are about seven projects completed or in progress, both in the territory of Barcelona and from abroad (Cuba, the Saharawi). The longest and most detailed is the one done in the Catalan prisons, to better understand what is it all about it is enough to browse through the blog that collects the work of some of the participants : www.ruidophoto.com/photo/acv
The concept that expresses the collective in all its activities is simple and effective, photography can still be a great tool for social intervention and of impact on the public opinion, as long as we update the paradigms. Using photography as a meeting place, as a means to offer the world and not only as a means of individual expression.
The photographer goes and takes pictures in a difficult area, not to bring back images to be sold, or to show these distant places on glossy magazines, but photography is used to intervene directly and create information in the same context in which one works. It is here that photography is more needed, and it is here that Ruido lives, gets its hands dirty and builds a relationship with the contemporary world in a frank and passionate way.
By Toni Arnau and Alejandra Cukar
The Paranà river, crossing Brasil, Paraguay and Argentina is the most important river of South America, second to The Amazon. The Paranà was once a very rich river, though now its’ whole ecosystem (fish, plants and even the inhabitants of the surrounding riverside) is threatened with extinction.
For many decades, in the name of progress, The Paranà river has been the source of great business; fish exporting, dam construction as well as the development of luxury housing.
Meanwhile, the inhabitants who have for so many years taken care of the river are forced to leave their land and jobs, expelled and slowly driven to the outskirts of the largest cities. A hidden humanitarian tragedy is occurring, dispersed along the 2500 miles covered by The Paranà river.
Fishing in The Paranà is facing an unprecedented crisis. Dams such as Yacyretà have affected the reproduction of the main fish species and furthermore, the exporting fishing companies without control, have exploited the few resources remaining. The reality is the fish are getting smaller and smaller, and will soon leave the fishermen without anything to fish.
Dams were filled to produce energy, leaving many thousands of men and women without jobs and homes. They witnessed their houses and surrounding lands be flooded forever, facing the unthinkable consciousness of being left with nothing. Most of them worked producing handmade bricks, but as this rich land was engulfed by the water their work was lost in the flooding. Many of them were relocated, others decided to evacuate, though everybody undoubtedly lost their sustenance.
The new conflict is now on The Paranà’s delta. There, the business is in the building of luxury districts with river views. As a result, the ancient people of the island that lived on their lands for generations, are now forced to leave. Their shacks have been demolished to build private neighbourhoods. It’s David against Goliath, but Goliath always wins.
Day by day, the Paranà is losing its fish, its land and its people. Everything is in danger of extinction, in the middle of a series of crises announcing a silent death.
The project is still in progress, and will include a series of texts. The ultimate goal is an awareness campaign in Argentina and Paraguay.
For those who know spanish here the first text story.