A retrospective Gerardo Nigenda by Domingo Valdivieso August 2010
Gerardo Nigenda approached photography in the late 1990s out of curiosity, as happens with most photographers, and as a result of circumstances. I do not think it was accidental. Someone came up with the idea of putting photographers and blind persons together in the same place: an 18th century house in Murguía Street in Oaxaca.
Gerardo’s curiosity turned into research on non-visual perception, which he gradually refined through the practice of photography. Gerardo was convinced that approaching photography and the photographic act should not only be done with technical instruments but by using all our senses.
He photographed the people closest to him, the blind people with whom he spent days at the Jorge Luis Borges library, the photographers with whom he shared his curiosity about photography at the Manuel Álvarez Bravo Photographic Center. Then he hit on the idea of following moments in the life of Sergio, a blind person who, because of the degree of trust that existed between them, decided to write an essay on a trip to see his family in his home town. And so Gerardo created a series of portraits that were formally well produced.
For me, the selection of photos comprising this gallery in Zone Zero are a conversation, like many of those we held, in relation to the things that that concerned him, the images that surprised him, the images of those that surrounded him, the friends and people with whom he shared important moments, the children with whom he worked in his DIF office in Oaxaca, the immensity of the landscapes, the beach, mountains as well as the naked female body.
Gerardo Nigenda shared his images with the people he portrayed and with the viewers and photographers who accepted the fact that a blind man could make and take photos. He also shared them with blind people through the braille inscriptions he did of them.
The procedure for selecting Nigenda's photos was to talk about them. We would develop his rolls and print contact sheets. Then I would describe the photos to remind him of the moment when he had taken them. We would carry out an analysis of the image and the situation that had led to the photo and on the basis of that, we would choose. He would then write about the impressions he remembered of that moment or a thought, in Braille. When I was near him, that was how we used to work.
Although I was never brave enough to take any of his workshops or to cope with the momentary loss of vision in order to see how my other senses worked, through his attitude towards life and by sharing his images with me, Gerardo Nigenda let me see more than what I allowed myself to.
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