< TextsFarleigh


Farleigh — A place where even photography examines fiction

The world is fiction. An immense fiction and it will be photography that will give it back its verisimilitude.

The latitude and longitude of Farleigh are indeterminable. We know it is somewhere on the other side of a territory we know or we think we know. To reach Farleigh we will probably have to cross the sea, go up dunes and rocky hills, wade through caves, go through never-ending fields until the foot of the black covered sleeping mountain. Along the way, you will find remnants of mineral salts, dense vegetation with exuberant and vibrant colours, serpent-like trees and traces of ancient civilizations.

In Farleigh, there is only one time, despite the guaranteed cycle between night and day, as the circle of a flock of birds flying over the sea, very high above, telling the tale that in this world everything is born and everything dies. But, in Farleigh, lost in space and time, we will have to hold on to the few coordinates that make us human. Time presents itself as one present continuous. The bodies (of its inhabitants?) rehearse the eternal fall or the infinite wait, looking for refuge, without ever getting acquainted with the House. The house closes itself off, isolates itself. The objects exist suspended in space, like some wounded bodies. The fire devours the night. And, in the night, under the excessive abstract glare, houses, boats, objects float in a space with no dimensions. It is their name that it is stolen from them, throwing them into perpetual uncertainty (it will be necessary to evoke the archetypes that guide our steps between life and death). As in times of erosion: unusual shaped rocks or a face sculpted in the only era we feel as distant and past? Landscapes, bodies and objects lead us back, always, to the same starting point: where is Farleigh

In the depths of the anguish that characterises our being-in-the-world (in present time). 

The photographer uses his camera as a probe, studying Farleigh's limits. In other situations, its limits would be presented to him, perfectly, defined and circumscribed to a fragment of the world, inside which he mapped out its singularities, variations and motives—or, in the full array, the ‘forms’.

”—that arose before the light, their fluctuation and irradiation through bodies and objects. To photograph in order to know the (apparent) reality of a fragment of the world, inscribing in the surface of the film an image of what he saw or the shapes that he discovered in that image. But the world—it could be sensed, even in that fragment—it always shows itself to the lens as fiction. In a thousand clicks, a thousand fictions. And, in each photograph, a fragment of that larger fiction. “(...) the gesture of photographing is a gesture of seeing and so engages in what the antique thinkers called ‘theoria,’ producing an image that these thinkers called ‘idea.’ In contrast to the majority of other gestures, the point of the photographic gesture is not directly to change the world or to communicate with others. Rather, it aims to observe something and fix the observation, to ‘formalize’ it. (…) Photography is the result of something new—a look at the world and simultaneously a change in the world.”[1]

The photographer sees the world already transformed because observing a situation “is, to the same extent, to be changed by it. Observation changes the observer. (…) The photographer cannot help manipulating the situation. His very presence is a manipulation. And he cannot avoid being affected by the situation. He is changed simply by being there. The objectivity of an image (an idea) can only ever be the result of manipulation (observation) of one situation or another. Each idea is false to the extent that it manipulates what it takes into consideration, and in this sense, it is ‘art,’ which is to say fiction. Nevertheless, there are ideas that are true in another sense, namely, in really grasping what is under consideration. That may be what Nietzsche meant when he said that art is better than truth.”[2]

The photographer knows he creates fiction, using and manipulating photography to understand the world’s true ideas, knowing that it is that very own condition of authenticity that prevents the death of photography or the capacity to problematise itself as a transformation of the world. The true ideas are found by the photographer at the root or origin of what we can call inexplicable or mysterious, and that the photographer has been pursuing throughout his work (perplexity and strangeness are common characteristics of several of his series). But in Farleigh, the wonder takes on another dimension. To the intimacy of before, there is now a loneliness that looms over and covers everything in Farleigh.    

Before, the wandering and search for the place and position of observation and manipulation were conducted by a critical distance that the photographer could determine with some safety, circumscribing the possibilities, even playing with chance, that he deliberately let’s intervene (continuing to privilege analogue processes, chance is defined by what is left, inscrutable, the result of complex mechanical, electromagnetic and chemical processes, that occur in several operations, from what happens inside the camera to developing, printing and the reaction to different mediums used to fix the image—we should note, in Farleigh, the use of very particular photographic papers, some of which with more than 50 years—, or even, using manual correction and retouch). Nevertheless, in Farleigh, when searching for its position, the photographer seems to always be surprised by something else, giving the photographs an even greater perplexity, in which the “form” seems to escape him, leaving nothing but a remnant, a trace of the possibility of its existence, as if it was a murmur of a secret about something intangible—maybe an abrupt event that triggered a series of unpredictable phenomena[3]—that has no place in photography. This uneasiness is accentuated when, curiously, the print format is made smaller and we are compelled to fix our gaze to the image and to really open our eyes in a vain attempt to unveil its secret, in a frustrating intimacy. It all seems to indicate that it’s the “form” of what we cannot grasp that in the end is what the photographer pursues, capturing the formless, that which has no form, despite all the forms that appear (their proof of existence is a condition for survival).

However, the emerging forms are not immune to falling, to being wounded, fragile, imbalanced, unstable, undefined, and devoid of space-time coordinates. On the contrary, the boat holds itself up with rudimentary and temporary wooden beams, anticipating an imminent fall. The constrained suspended foot eludes the wound with a bandage. The all-consuming fire that reduces everything to ashes, hypnotizes with its immaterial reflection. Other forms, despite recognizing themselves as such, remain in a state of latent non-definition: a stone or an egg? An eye or a halo? In the gestures of the bodies, we can see traces of animals, holding in them the ultimate possibility of existence in a territory that seems to be the end-all.

To avoid the total collapse and rupture of our cognizant and sentient structures, the photographer creates “sub-circuits” by establishing relationships, affinities and analogies, which in turn enable not a redemption, but a choice that takes place in the imagination. It will always be through the imagination that the photographs we gaze at can finally transform us into this place we call world, and leave Farleigh, not immune, but aware of the abyss that the transformation of the world—with a double meaning, remembering the words of Vilém Flusser—creates in the human condition. Throughout our existence, we will go back several times to Farleigh: that strange place that exists only in us.


Susana Ventura
March 2023


[1] in Gestures, by Vilém Flusser, translated by Nancy Ann Roth, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London, 1991.

[2] idem

[3] Given the interval of time in which this series was made, we were able to question some possible phenomena at a societal level, remaining, however, inaccessible and hidden possible transformations that occurred at the photographer's individual level.

Susana Ventura