Monday, September 02, 2013

In Front of the Lens


"So there is no hope for change?" I ask him.

"No", he says. "They're all crooks. What matters is: they're my crooks."

The beach was almost deserted. Earlier, there were locals swimming and it was strange watching them play a ball game in the sea while fully clothed, wearing shirts and shorts. But stranger still were the women clad in burqas while bathing, their eyes, faces and bodies hidden from the world.

I was in Malamawi island located in the southern Philippine province of Basilan. Accompanied by four escorts, we rode a small boat and motorcycles from Isabela to bring us to this place.

It was, indeed, beautiful. By five in the afternoon, the locals have left allowing me to quietly ponder on things. On what I have seen of the province, my conversations with Arnold, the soldier tasked to guard us and keep us safe, the wonder one feels when he travels to distant lands.

In this photo, I am posing. I know I am posing. I want you to know I am posing. As the French philosopher Roland Barthes once said, "In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art."

It will become part of my History of Looking. "For the Photograph is the advent of myself as other: a cunning dissociation of consciousness from identity."

I want to be primitive, to speak to the empty spaces in each of us. To distill an experience into a single image, a single photograph.