Is it possible to capture in a snapshot the necessarily complex, diverse and ever-changing identity of a city, in this case Barcelona? That is the morrocotudo challenge faced by the artist and photographer Jordi Bernadó (Lleida, 1966), who will go up to the Liceu stage on June 26 to, from there, portray a Barcelona of 2,292 faces – as many as the seats that the theater has–, belonging to people of all nationalities, social classes, genders, ethnic groups, ideologies and sexual tendencies that inhabit the city. Said in a more graphic way, the Catalan president of a banking entity sitting between a Pakistani taxi driver and the trans waitress of a cocktail bar on Las Ramblas.
“What do I like about the idea of the city? Beyond ideals or flags, cities are sustained by their inhabitants and by the invisible links established in diversity. And that is the photo I would like to take," says Bernadó, who has been working for more than a year with a team of researchers and associations, from business groups to Casa del Tibet or foundations such as Arrels, dedicated to caring for people who live on the street, to try to make a biography of the many Barcelonas that inhabit the city, to compose their human cartography. "Here, for example, almost 200 languages are spoken and I would like them all to be represented," says the photographer, who has set up a website where all those interested in participating in the action can register (mewe.jordibernado.com).
Because ME WE, as the project is titled, wants to be much more than a photo. “I wanted the stage to be a place that was quickly identified with Barcelona and with the culture. And, of course, the Liceu, closely linked to certain elites and the bourgeoisie, is not the most transversal in the world, but it seemed to me that the photo was a good excuse to admit all that plurality. For a moment all of Barcelona will be at the Liceu”. "Deep down - adds Bernadó - what I would like is for photography to be an activator of something, for us to realize that there is much more that unites us than what separates us and that we ask ourselves what is really important in our lives".
ME WE is part of the Liceu de les Arts project, the same one that two years ago hosted the Concert for the biocene of the artist Eugenio Ampudia (on that occasion there were 2,292 plants that occupied the seats of the theater), or the current exhibition of William Kentridge, Double Vision at the Saló dels Miralls. Starting on July 16, Bernadó will bring to this same space a piece of a lost paradise rescued from one of the most remote and unexplored places on the planet: Lake Télé, a circular freshwater lagoon in the northeast of the Republic of Congo surrounded by swampy jungles that has hardly been photographed due to its difficult access. One of the few images was taken weeks ago by Bernadó himself, who will suspend a large format reproduction (180x240 cm) of the Liceu ceiling and on the floor, as if it were a carpet, a circular mirror where the lake will be reflected.
“Despite the fact that in an image you can recognize a place, I try to reveal myself a little against the idea that what you think you see is what it is. For me, the interesting thing is that photography is just a beginning, an activator, the beginning of something that leads the viewer to go further”, she says. And that is true for ME WE, for De profundis, as this game of mirrors is called, which multiplies in the eyes of the spectators, And that is true for ME WE, for De profundis, as this game of mirrors is called. multiplies in the eyes of the spectators, or for ID project, the 14 portraits that will be exhibited in the oval room of the MNAC.
It is an open series on which he has been working for six years and in which identity is once again the central theme of the project. As he revealed over the course of ten months in the Cultura/s supplement, his protagonists are people he considers "transformers", an engine of change for society, to whom he proposes to make a portrait with three conditions: photography it will be done from the back and in the distance, he will fire a single shot and they will be the ones who will choose where they want to be photographed, their place in the world. “Whatever it is, we will go; if you decide Alaska, we will go to Alaska.” Environmental activist Gretchen Cara Daily took him to a remote part of Costa Rica and had to wait months to photograph physicist Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University. “Due to his health condition, the appointment was postponed several times. The last one I received a call: "Mr. Hawking is ten minutes late, he has gone to the hairdresser." He was very sick, he knew that he would leave behind, but he arrived dressed in a suit. While he was preparing the photo, the sky opened up and the midday moon appeared. It is the last picture of him and he is looking at the moon.”
"There is some humor in these portraits," admits the photographer. “I ask for an act of faith from both those portrayed and the viewer, who have to believe that that tiny figure at the top of the stairs of the Metropolitan is Woody Allen and not a visitor to the museum.” Also appearing in the gallery are the lawyer and spokesperson for Human Rights Watch Reed Brody, the indigenous leader Rosario Quispe and Ferran Adrià. “When you see them, the first thing that arises is the interest in what is photographed. But I like to think that what is interesting is again neither who nor how has been photographed, but rather that each one wonders about their place in the world. It's like he's making a portrait of the one he looks at, the viewer."