THE LONELINESS OF THE CONTEMPORARY INDIVIDUAL IN THE WORK OF TETSUYA ISHIDA

Society today lives beset by contradictions. The progress of communications allows us to be permanently connected and share in real time our daily news. At a dizzying pace, contents are created, uploaded to the network, an exchange is generated seeking for virtual contact in a reality that condenses in the palm of our hand thanks to the smartphone. However, this hyperconnection takes place while a paradoxical phenomenon occurs, because the human being feels more isolated, alone and individualistic than ever.

Tetsuya Ishida. "Conveyor belt for people", 1996. Acrylic on board. Private collection, Singapur (via arsmagazine.com)

Loneliness is a consequence of the imperative of the new times. The demands of work, the frenetic production process, the generalisation of the same aspirations in life linked to success and money produce a huge identity vacuum. Although in previous historical periods many social advances came from the hand of collective claims and the generation of a sense of community, today the individual is focused on himself and his own achievements, which leads him to a deep sense of detachment. Because, let's not forget, the human being is social by nature and creates links with others. The creators of social networks knew perfectly these mechanisms that compel us to share the snippets of our lives with others but did not know how to anticipate the other side of the coin, which feeds on false appearances to build a fake everyday life, giving place to a personal alienation that becomes their virtual reality.

Tetsuya Ishida, "Soldier", 1996, acrylic on board, Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, photo Takemi Art Photos, courtesy Kyuryudo Art Publishing Co., Ltd. (via museoreinasofia.es)

La preocupación por estos temas es motivo de reflexión para muchos creadores. El ser humano protagoniza una suerte de abandono de sí mismo, un extrañamiento de su verdadera esencia que resulta desolador. Pero el tiempo, sin piedad, no nos deja pensar en ello. No obstante, algunos artistas se imponen a esta tendencia y se concentran en reflejar lo que ellos mismos viven y observan. Así es el caso del artista japonés Tetsuya Ishida, cuyo trabajo refleja la situación del individuo contemporáneo, en un estado de ánimo afectado por los vaivenes económicos, las crisis financieras y la imposición de las exigencias del mercado. El resultado es una identidad ausente que conduce al aislamiento y a la falta de entendimiento de nuestro lugar en el mundo.

Tetsuya Ishida. “Return trip”, 2003 (via museoreinasofia.es)

El Museo Reina Sofía dedica la exposición titulada “Autorretrato de otro” a Tetsuya Ishida, joven creador que tuvo una corta e intensa trayectoria de apenas diez años de producción. Su obra desarrolla una narrativa propia en la que las personas aparecen encerradas en lugares claustrofóbicos, con una alteración de las escalas para subrayar el efecto de encierro y la angustiosa sensación de no hallar una salida. Los colores grises, ocres y verdosos crean la atmósfera de un ambiente industrial y metálico, donde la gente viste de uniforme y se confunde con la maquinaria. Seres miméticos que pueblan nuestra sociedad y esconden tras su mirada vidriosa la soledad del alma.

 

The CEART opens this Thursday, November 14th in the room A an exhibition dedicated to this master of photography, which will be open to the public until February 9th. The show includes one of the artist's latest projects, focused on the hard work carried out by the miners of Serra Pelada, an open gold mine in the heart of Brazil where employees daily risked their lives.

Immigration, poverty, marginal life, slave labour, man's relationship with the land, the use of natural resources... are issues that have always fascinated Salgado. From the beginning of his career as a photographer, his work has opted to give visibility to the most disadvantaged groups and to create with his images a vivid and impressive visual story without fakes. With a raw black and white, this author's work transits between photo-reportage and naturalistic photography.

And the idea that permeates all his work is human dignity. Salgado portrays employees, miners and gatherers from a purely humanistic approach that wants to value their integrity, their strength and their resilience.

“If you photograph a human, so that he is not represented in a noble way, there is no reason to take the picture. That is my way of seeing things.”

Salgado entered this discipline long after completing his studies in economics between Brazil and the United States, and a doctorate in statistics in France. But in 1973 his life took a turn, and he decided to start his career as a photographer. He achieved to work at the Gamma Agency and Magnum Photos for more than 15 years until in 1994 he founded his own agency “Amazonas Imagen”.

With the “Gold” project, the photographer portrays a harsh reality that takes place in the Serra Pelada mine, a name given to a totally devastated and anarchically excavated mining enclave, the world's largest open-pit gold mine, through which more than 50,000 people have passed. In the heat of the legends about the mysterious “El Dorado”, the enthusiasm for this precious metal led to the development of strenuous exploitation practices for the workers and to originate tales of grief and glory, of human victory and defeat between the soil, the tunnels and the cargo baskets.

The CEART exhibition brings together Salgado's full portfolio in his characteristical black and white and large-format photographs that leave no one indifferent.