‘Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo says when he describes the cities visited on his expeditions, but the emperor of the Tartars does continue listening to the young Venetian with greater attention and curiosity than he shows any other messenger or explorer of his.’
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, 1972.
Almost is a collection of photographs produced in the area neighbouring the Strait of Gibraltar in the southern Spanish coast.
I was nine when I first saw Africa. I did not go on a safari holiday to the heart of Africa, but instead had a much more modest encounter – the verb ‘to see’ perfectly encapsulates the totality of my experience.
I was on a weekend school trip to the town of Torremolinos in the Costa del Sol and after an hour and a half of driving, passing by the southern most point of Europe near the city of Tarifa, I was prompted by a teacher to look towards the right – I saw a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean meeting the Mediterranean Sea, with the Atlas Mountains of northern Morocco in the background. I clearly remember thinking about the significance of what I was seeing, understanding I was looking at a
different country and continent. Almost is a consequence of this potent memory, but forms part of a broader visual theory.
In 2008, starting in my hometown of Cadiz and traveling towards the Strait of Gibraltar, I pointed the camera south to photograph what lay across the sea, annotating the distance between the position of the camera and the shore of Africa. I also photographed the partially obscure landscapes I travelled through, looking in as well as out.
Jean-Paul Sartre argues in The Imaginary that although objects possess qualities that are out of view, these qualities can still be perceived by our imagination. I would argue we also have the capacity to imagine what is suggested but not there. Photography is often understood by its indexical properties but it is the suppressed or invisible elements of a photograph that offer the greatest potential for artistic expression. The limitations of photographic representation are its true assets.
Almost is an attempt not only to encourage the imagination by depriving the viewer of visual stimuli, but also to photograph what lies beyond the recording capability of the camera lens.