|DonTirso de Irureta Goyena - Manila
I always prefer to work in the Studio. It isolates people from their environment. They become in a sense…symbolic of themselves. I often feel that people come to me to be photographed as they would go to the doctor or a fortune teller – to find out how they are. So they’re dependent on me. I have to engage them. Otherwise there’s nothing to photograph. The concentration has to come from me to involve them. Sometimes the force of it grows so strong that sounds in the studio go unheard. Time stops. We share a brief and intense intimacy. But it’s unearned. It has no past…no future. And when the sitting is over- when the picture is done – there is nothing left except the photograph…the photograph and a kind of embarrassment. They leave…and I don’t know them. I’ve hardly heard what they’ve said. If I meet them a week later in a room somewhere, I expect they won’t recognize me. Because I don’t really feel I was really there. At least the part of me that was…is now in the photograph. And the photographs have a reality for me that the people don’t. It’s through the photographs that I know them. Maybe it’s in the nature of being a photographer. I’m never really implicated. I don’t have to have any knowledge. It’s all a question of recognitions.
I have been haunted for some time by Richard Avedon’s observation on taking portraits of people in his studio.
During the last couple of nights I have gone further with the
idea that I may not know well not only the people I have photographed but even
(and this is what troubles me) those who are my close relatives like my
daughters and granddaughters. I stare at the many framed photographs of them in the house. They look back at me and I feel cold.
The photograph here is of my maternal grandfather Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena – 1888-1918.While he died at the age of 30 he managed to publish a book of poetry, be a commanding lawyer and perhaps the only member of the Real Academia Española residing in the Philippines.
I never did ask my mother where he had been born and now my curiosity can never relieved because all who might know the answer are dead.
My mother died in 1972 and my grief has dissipated with time. I now remember her smiles and her kindness to this idiot that I am.
But getting back to the idea of not knowing people around me I have discovered that now I feel an extraordinary kinship with my long lost relatives. I almost think I can remember (impossible as I never met him) Don Tirso’s voice and recognize his almost nonexistent smile.
Of Rosemary I cannot escape my thought of her anytime during the day and worse at night. I know her but in a different way that I know and recognize Don Tirso.
I believe that, Alex here, between long dead relatives and the few living ones is gravitating towards a smiling dead horde who seem to be beckoning and welcoming me to join them.
They are incorporeal. My daughters and granddaughters are corporeal. I am desvaneciendo (dissipating, disolving) into being the incorporeal Alex and I will reside in whatever family album of the future my daughters will have. Will they also go through the process?
Meanwhile my Rosemary is in some sort of transitory limbo, in my head.