Within the Official Section of PHotoEspaña 2018, forty-six photographers of the prestigious international agency founded by Robert Capa show off their playful side by investigating the notion of ‘play’
Few rules: the rights of the photos remain to those who have taken them. For no reason, during a publication, the image can be trimmed, rather it must always be reproduced in its entirety. Finally: photographing reality, without any construction, no posing. In times dominated by fake news, by hi-tech forgeries in which it is almost impossible to distinguish reality from lies, the photography of the masters of the Magnum lens, the legendary cooperative founded, among others, by Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, are a panacea.
This is why, and also thanks to a registry (Magnum has recently celebrated seventy years of work, with initiatives around the world) of PHotoEspaña, the most important event in the Iberian peninsula (and one of the largest at a European level), which will take place in Madrid until September 16th, has dedicated a space to a vast exhibition with over six-hundred shots right from the Magnum archive.
Unlike similar initiatives that took place to celebrate their anniversary, the exhibition in the Spanish capital will not bring back those images – many of which are impressed in our collective memory – that have made history: from the Vietnam war to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The shots collected for the exhibition, which for no coincidence is called “Players” are, more than anything else, representations of moments of common life, focused on play and leisure. For example, the photo signed by Carolyn Drake in 2005: a child swinging on the swing while his grandmother enjoys a piece of pizza under an umbrella. A trivial shot? Quite the opposite: it is an image “stolen” in a gated community (an exclusive village, closed to all non-residents) in Florida, during a birthday party.
These are “Players” who play – it might be appropriate to say – on the different meanings of the term, bringing together photos from several generations of Magnum agency photographers. Do not miss out on the great era of black and white: a photo by Burt Glinn, also used to promote the exhibition, portrays the members of the “Seattle Tubing Society” soaking in a river, while showing off a typical ’50s beach fashion. The exhibition will also offer a tour around the world that will help the viewer understand how the meaning of “play” can also vary depending on where you are on the planet.
“Players” is just one of the many initiatives within PHotoEspaña, whose 2018 program (the twenty-first edition) counts one hundred exhibitions, 514 exhibited artists for a total of 62 locations in the Spanish capital. Among these great exhibitions you’ll find “The Greatest Show on Earth”, dedicated to the golden age of the circus, with images of fearless acrobats and animal tamers facing ferocious beasts, the “Grand World Final” which tells the story of people, but also of animals and plants, who seem to rebel against the laws of nature, and finally “Odyssey”, a retrospective dedicated to Samuel Fosso, a Nigerian artist with forty years of activity behind him and a life worthy of a novel. He is the protagonist of many of his photos, where he plays on the multiple identity of a man who was first a son of the African continent, then a refugee, and finally a man of success.