Italian photographer Fausto Giaccone’s works from his beautiful photo book ‘Macondo’ will be the centre point of the Sensorium art festival being held at Sunapranta Goa Centre for Arts from December 6. In his book, Fausto has magically revealed Gabriel García Márquez’ literary world by way of photographs and in a long discussion he shares how the inspiration for this body of works came to him after he read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. He also talks about his work, his love for understanding cultures, and his need to ‘feel’ before making photographs
By Mahesh Bhat
On his photographic process for Macondo
Fausto used a Rollie, a ‘Twin Lens Reflex’ analogue camera for this project. Wrierc Chiaramonte in his essay ‘Memory of Macondo’ writes about Fausto shooting while holding the camera close to his heart.
“It is a very nice interpenetration by Giovanni; however, it is a metaphor. I started photography in the 60s and at that time the camera was Nikon F. All my life I have used Nikon, a 35mm camera. The choice of Rollei for Macondo happened because I was trying to find a new photographic language – not that of a photojournalist, because all my life I have been a photo journalist.
“Photojournalists used 35mm cameras and I thought of trying to find a different approach, a different distance. I didn’t want to carry heavy cameras and lenses either. Rollei was perfect in all aspects. I was not interested in wide angles or tele photo lenses.
“Also, when I read ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ the first time I was very young. I remember that I could not place the story in a real world. I was in South America and at that time had not been out of Europe. I was not able to put it in context.
“At the end of my work I realised that the choice of Rolleiflex and what came out of it probably was appropriate. Because the language I used was not really the language of today; it is not really very contemporary. It had the likeness of historical and classical photography. I am not a very organised photographer, I follow my feeling”, says Fausto
On following his feeling
“I don’t know if it will work for everyone, but for me, I need to feel first. It is a kind of instinct. I feel when things are all right for me. Then I understand better what is happening around me. Sometimes I change; I adjust my way of working. But feeling is most important. I had worked in Colombia many times, always on precise assignments. But, for Macondo I wanted to be totally free.
“It was not an assignment, it was just a desire. After almost forty years of work I wanted to do something more important than my professional work; something that spoke about me. Though the work was inspired by Gabo’s writing, this was kind of an outer portrait of mine, which perhaps all personal works of photographers are.
I read his auto biography and biography by Gerard Martin. In the beginning I started to capture the places that reminded me of the ‘100 Years of Solitude’. As I went on everything I saw reminded me of ‘100 years…’ and now all the pictures from the book remind me of the novel.
On the experience of shooting ‘Macondo’
“The thing that was a big discovery was that everything that Gabo wrote came from a reality, and that it was not a fantasy or magical realism. I understood it clearly when I went to Aracataca, the place where he was born. Gabo wrote: ‘At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs.’
“I went looking for it and found that precise spot! “There were many such instances. It was like discovering a key.”
His thoughts on photography
“Yes, it has become much easier to take a single image today because of digital photography. The problem is not the shot, but the sequencing. One must know how to sequence and tell a story, may it be for a book, catalogue or an exhibition. It is difficult, really difficult, to find the right way.”
On his working style
I work slowly. I build stories year after year. I have had just four books in forty years. I like to build and rebuild things; it is important to me. I like to stay for long and find a personal vision. It is very important to find a personal vision. I become friends with the people I photograph, I keep in touch, and I photograph them over time. They become a symbol of the passage of time. For me the most important work is when life – my personal life – and photography fit together. I like to work in places where it seems there is nothing to see. But I ask, dig deeper and see pictures where apparently there is nothing to be seen. The most difficult thing is to find things when there is nothing. Macondo is not only work; it is my life. Because it is a culture I like, I feel very close to.
(Mahesh Bhat is a documentary photographer. India is his canvas and he has been photographing it for over 29 years. He has worked for several international publications and produced three books. He teaches at The One School Goa.)
About Fausto Giaccone
Fausto Giaccone was born in Tuscany, but grew up in Palermo on the island of Sicily. On that island, which was a sandwich of many cultures – Greek, Roman, French, German, Spanish, Arab – Fausto grew up in a complex and orthodox culture. At a young age he travelled across Europe hitchhiking and taking pictures, returning with a new world view. He went to Rome in 1965 to study architecture. After the completion of his studies, he did not pursue it as a career, but plunged into photography instead.
He photographed the anti establishment student movement of 1968 in Sicily, Rome, Egypt, Jordan and Sardinia and the images became iconic. Fausto’s photographs began to appear in almost all newspapers in Italy and his career as a photographer took off.
His most famous reportage is that of the Carnation Revolution of Portugal, in 1974 and 1975. During that political revolution farmlands and fields were occupied by farm workers and taken over from the large landlords. Fausto made great photographs of the changes in Alentejo, a small village in the south of Portugal. He photographed the local people and their reactions during the revolution.
Fausto has worked for some of the finest periodicals from around the world in his career spanning over 40 years. When he was serving his mandatory military duty he read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s (Gabo) ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ and later other books as well. Gabo’s writing touched him profoundly and several decades later he went to Colombia to photograph Gabo’s world. The result was a beautiful photo book ‘Macondo’, the works from which will be the centre point of Sensorium Festival being held at Sunapranta Goa Centre for Arts from December 6.