Evoking Emotion Through Nostalgia

Marcelo Brodsky (b.1954) is an artist and human rights activist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He trained as a photographer at the International Center of Photography in Barcelona, Spain during his exile in the 1980s. He has had solo exhibitions in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, New York, Rotterdam, Montevideo, Rome, Caracas, and Amsterdam and his work is represented in the collection of the Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, the Joaquim Paiva Collection, the Fernando Baur Collection and numerous private collections. In 1997, he edited and exhibited the photographic essay Buena Memoria (Good Memory), consisting of photos, video and texts that show the personal and collective evolution of a class of the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, marked by two “missing” students due to state terrorism. Between 1997 and 2007, the exhibition was presented over a hundred times in 20 countries, by itself and as part of other artistic projects. Buena Memoria has been published in Spanish, English, Italian and German. In 2007, he participated as co-curator in Body Politics/Corpolíticas organized by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics in Buenos Aires. He runs Latinstock, the premier photo agency in Latin America.
Marcelo Brodsky recently came to Dhaka to attend the Chobi Mela Festival. Rahad Abir interviews him for The Star.

How did you come into photography?
I was in exile in Barcelona, Spain, studying Economics, but wanted to do something else, more related to art, and decided on photography, which I already loved from childhood.

Could you please tell us about your exile in Barcelona in the 80s?
There was a dictatorship in Argentina, from 1976 to 1983. I was almost kidnapped by irregular military forces in 1977, but could escape to Brazil and then to Spain, where I studied and spent eight years.

Do you remember your first photography sale?
My first photography sales started when I opened my first picture agency, Focus, in Argentina in 1986.

How do you describe your photographic style?
My work deals with memory and looks for an emotional reaction in the viewer through the use of multiple media, basically photography but also video, text, installation and other communication resources. My work shown in Drik is a good example of this combination.

How do you find your subjects?
I carry my camera most of the time. The subjects can either become such by chance, or be the result of prior planning.

How do you get so close to your subjects?
I choose intimate subjects, the consequences of violence in my friends and family, or my visual dialogues with other photographers who are usually friends.

When you photograph, do you have a theme in mind?
Sometimes I do, I deal with a subject matter. Sometimes the theme comes up on its own, from reality.

My correspondences, for instance, respond to the image of the other artist, and we maintain a visual dialogue; my image responds to his.

Who are your influences?
The history of photography, at large, has great influence over photographers, no matter where the images have been shot. I could name Christian Boltanski, Duane Michals, Manel Esclusa, Rodchenko…

What are the advantages and disadvantages of digital photography?
Digital photography simply makes our life easier. Particularly with my dialogues, communication is faster, on line, immediate…

Disadvantages would be that to keep up with the development of new technology, we would have to invest in new cameras every two years, and that may be too expensive.

To what extent are graphics needed in photography?
The most important way of showing photography is in publications, such as books, posters, press, the web. Design and graphics are essential to these media.

What quick advice do you have for someone who simply wants to improve his or her photography skills?
Look at a lot of photography books of all times and places, and shoot a lot and be critical at the time of editing.

What projects are you currently working on?
My current projects are three books. One on the history of Latin American photo books, a selection of the best books ever published in the region. Then a book called Body Politics, with essays and images on the relationship between the human body and political action. The third one is the first big book on my current project of correspondences that will be due in May in Buenos Aires. It includes my visual dialogues with Martin Parr, from the UK, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, from Mexico, Manel Esclusa, from Spain, Horst Hoheisel from Germany and Cassio Vasconcellos, from Brazil. It will also be the catalogue of a show that will start in Buenos Aires and has scheduled ventures in La Habana, Cuba and in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

What kind of impression do you hope to leave upon others who see your photographs?
Emotion and thought.

What direction do you think street photography will go in the future?
Street photography is not a genre that can be entirely separated from other forms of photography. In the street you can shoot whatever you want. It will be massified, extended, and democratic for a growing number of image creators, as photography in general.

Please let us know about your Buena Memoria .
That is my most known essay, of 1997, which deals with the memory of violence and state terror in Argentina in the seventies and early eighties, it is an attempt to narrate a traumatic experience of loss and pain to a new generation. It rescues the lives of the missing, and claims for justice, memory and truth.


What is your experience in Bangladesh to take part at the Chobi Mela.
It has been a fantastic experience, a great team, always optimistic and positive, and a phenomenal opportunity to get in touch with Asian photographers, who rarely visit Latin America. A point of contact and of friendship.

How do you see Bangladeshi photography now?
I see it maturing, and the Festival will help a lot in that, by bringing unknown images and styles that will influence the local photographers.

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