Myself in Every Stranger’s Eyes
P21 Gallery is proud to present “Myself in Every Stranger’s Eyes” an online exhibtion by Mignon group. In this new project of the group, the teaching of their master Walter Rosenblum is realized in a totally unexpected but complete way. He shared with Lewis Hine the conviction that with photography you can prove that dignity is a universal feeling, that no differences can be made between men on the basis of race, religion, nationality or economic conditions.
Walter Rosenblum used his expressive means to communicate shared aspirations and values, arousing mutual respect among people who do not know each other. He used the camera in a way that people can recognize themselves, with the hope that understanding helps erasing ignorance and fear, the main causes of so many social injustices.
This is also the result to which the proposed images aspire, the result of a work shared by different people moved by the same ideals.
In this project of the Mignon group street photography is bearer of values and meanings that nowadays seem not to make headlines, but that must be strongly reaffirmed.
Moments of Life
"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."
Finding a sense of what you see also means knowing how to distinguish between good and bad images, between those that set in motion transformations or block them ... Re-evaluate what is small, imperceptible, what belongs to the subjective sphere, that marks human being, his gender, his history, his face, his person: the ugly, the old resurface to visibility, after long-lasting removals and censures; behind the neutral gender a masculine and a feminine reappears and between one and the other, various ways of being man and woman take shape.Looking at what does not ask for a gaze, what does not live to draw eyes, but at everything, which is mild and silent and accompanies daily steps and gestures. Starting again from what we think we see every day, but we do not look at anymore...
To look as if it was the first or the last time - Luigi Ghirriís suggestion - giving meaning to what we see, putting things in order, taking clues, faint traces, propitious lights, unusual combinations, helping us not to take anything for granted. Photography allows you to live a great adventure of thought and gaze since the eye can return a second time on what it saw in order not to forget it, to understand it or, perhaps, just for the joy of seeing it again and can make us see reality in a different way".
From "Photography as therapy" by Anna D'Elia, Meltemi 1999
"I will look through the window of your eyes to see you".
"We can live a wonderful life in the world if we know how to work and love, work for those we love and love what we work for".
"From the eyes of women I derive my doctrine: they still shine with the true fire of Prometheus; they are the books, the arts, the academies that show, contain and nourish the world."
"Of course God created man before woman. He always makes a draft before the final masterpiece".
"How much does a tear weigh? The tear of a capricious child weighs less than the wind, that one of a hungry child weighs more than the whole earth".
"Life is the childhood of our immortality" .
Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Simplicity of Life
Perhaps it is something wrong with our religion, both Christian and Moslem, which has forgotten the holiness of the seasons in their fruitfulness, and has ceased to honour with proper ceremonies the mysterious birth and growth of the things whereby we live: so that we have come to consider human values only, and have left it to the peasant to look upon the world in perspective.
Baghdad Sketches - Freya Stark
Strangers passing in the street
By chance two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me
And do I take you by the hand
And lead you through the land
And help me understand
The best I can
Echoes Pink Floyd 1971
"This is the beauty of photography: if you commit yourself with the noble intention of using the lens of your camera as a naked arbiter of truth, you inevitably find yourself with a collection of bombastic and artificial images, which cannot penetrate any secret. The best shots are always accidental. Think of the violent portraits of Weegeeís New York streets, or even the famous image of Capaís Spanish Republican, his arms outstretched like a crucifix as the bullet hits him in the back. The masterpieces of these artists were born from a spontaneous marriage between a great technique and the simple fact of being there. Chance is all, in photography. You can spend hours waiting for the right moment without ever grabbing it, and then find that the few shots you attempted while waiting for it show a spontaneity that is entirely absent from your refined composition studies. Rule number one of artistic expression is: the right moment is not something you choose, but something you stumble upon, hoping that your finger is on the shutter button".
From "Death of a Photographer" by Douglas Kennedy, Rizzoli 1997
îYou can walk millions of miles in a single life, without ever scratching the surface of places and without learning anything from the people just touched. Moving around is easy, work often dictates it, or you fly on vacation to the other side of the hemisphere to send postcards, take slides, buy souvenirs for friends and family, and come back identical as when you started your journey. Traveling with eyes shelled on the wonders of others is useless when the soul remains closed in the safe box of your house. You can do a real journey even by walking through a neighborhood of your city, where people, come from afar driven by need, which does not mean they are absolutely poor, live or survive".
From "Walking" by Pino Cacucci, Feltrinelli 1998
"Traveling ó it gives you home in thousand strange places, then leaves you a stranger in your own land."
Search of God
I walked, feeling in love with all the world, and was suddenly shocked to see an old shoemaker cross-legged in his booth staring at me with eyes of concentrated hate. One gets these shocks in Nejf, and it is horrid to be hated all for nothing. And what a strange revelation of self-esteem it is when people only love those who think and feel as they do-an extension of themselves, in fact! Even Christianity does not cure us-since one cannot feel right without assuming that the rest must be wrong. Personally I would rather feel wrong with everybody else than right all by myself: I like people different, and agree with the man who said that the worst of the human race is the number of duplicates: the old shoemaker was wasting his missionary feelings. And if he had been able to look past my English bodice into my heart, he would have seen that what it was filled with at the moment was a friendly respect for his Shrine, which stands over the souls of men as the golden dome of Nejf stands over the desert, and draws them from afar.
I was thinking of the ramshackle khan where old Afghans, having walked across the steppes of Asia, pay one rupee a month for a room to live in the neighbourhood of their Holy Place, ready to be gathered finally into its sacred dust. Their kilims for prayer are spread in the courtyard; at the door of each little cell, under a dilapidated wooden colonnade, an earthen jar in a wooden frame drips water-drops from its pointed base into a bowl: and that is all their furniture, more or less. They eke out a living by weaving black wool for tents, staked out on the ground between the kilims; and meet once a week for a "service of remembrance" when, out of their poverty, they scrape each a fils (the fiftieth of a shilling) and send it to the Shrine. Who are we to criticize a faith that gives so much?
"God be their guide from camp to camp: God be their shade from well to well;
God grant beneath the desert stars they hear the Prophet's camel bell.
And, son of Islam, it may be that thou shalt learn at journey's you end
Who walks thy garden eve on eve, and bows his head, and calls thee Friend."
Baghdad Sketches - Freya Stark
The power to narrate, or to block other narratives from forming and emerging, is very important to culture and imperialism, and constitutes one of the main connections between them. Most important, the grand narratives of emancipation and enlightenment mobilized people in the colonial world to rise up and throw off imperial subjection; in the process, many Europeans and Americans were also stirred by these stories and their protagonists, and they too fought for new narratives of equality and human community.
Culture and Imperialism - Edward W. Said
I am from there. I am from here. I am not there and I am not here. I have two names, which meet and part, and I have two languages. I forget which of them I dream in.
The exhibition is supported by the Art Council England and HUB Collective.