La mirada de Jon Txomin Enciondo

by Maike Moncayo,

Jon Txomin Enciondo is a Basque photographer whose initiation into visual arts started with film, by specializing in screenplay at the prestigious film school ESCAC in Barcelona. Maybe that’s where his ability to create a narrative tension between images comes from, as well as being capable of turning the profane into highly emotional material. In his work the manipulation of reality is exposed. The conjecture of an outside and an inside as two strictly separate fields vanishes under his subjective gaze. The out-of-focus, the play with perspective, the empty spaces that speak to us … the other as a mirror of yourself… are some of the key elements of his intimate photography.

His work has been exhibited in London, Sarajevo and Barcelona, and he was a finalist in FotoARte, as well as having been selected by Manuel Rivera Ortiz Foundation for the “International Photography” section in 2012.

We chatted with Jon about his self-edited publication, “Construcciones íntimas” (“intimate constructions”). A picture book that explores the genre of the self-portrait juxtaposing the outside and the inside, and, thereby, creating something you call “emotional architecture”. Here we present five diptychs from this exquisite series.

Construcciones íntimas is a series apparently consisting of architectural structures and self-portraits that randomly discovers parallels full of meaning and coherence.

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My academic background is film. After four years of studying at ESCAC I was confronted with a fragile and uncertain career in the film world, until a course at the Escola Massana directed me towards photography, a field I’ve since become passionate about. Precisely, that in that course I created “intimate constructions”, a piece that represents my professional turning point. For the first time I edited one of my works on paper. A series consisting of architectural structures and self-portraits, that I started without knowing where it would take me. The surprise is that the somewhat random composition of images results in the discovery of parallels full of meaning and coherence, something like a script that emerges from the images themselves, that although without knowing it, was already in the hidden intention of the shots.

I discovered that I could make film with photography.

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From here I started with a series of works, some more documentary than others, like London or Sarjevo Winter, but which are based on the interaction of shapes, colours and content, to become almost cinematic stories. That means that with photography, I somehow managed to do film. Eventually, I discovered what an amazing effort that is.

 

I absolutely admire the intimate dimension and sincerity of Juergen Teller or Wolfgang Tillmans.

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Many say that my photography is intimate and I think it couldn’t be otherwise. For me to stand behind or in front of the camera is the same thing, the feeling is just as intense. Many of the super photographers that I love like Juergen Teller and Wolfgang Tillmans do photography from that intimate dimension, whatever they do, be it fashion editorials or commissioned work, you always find their personal footprint in the image. They get to be honest and I truly love that.  But really, there are so many photographers that I admire and who inspire me; I fall in love on the Internet many times a day.

At the moment, I am working on a new documentary project that moves away from academic subjects but still manages to tell a story.

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Right now I am working on an intense project called “Black Sunset”, which explores the massive “production” of fruit and vegetable crops in huge greenhouses, particularly, in the village of El Ejido, Almería. I combine the artificial landscapes arising from the immensity and intensity of light reflected off the roof of the greenhouses (Almería has a special light, I’m not the first to say so) with still lifes of fruits and vegetables. The natural elements are shown in combination with plastic and I document their evolution over time. It is a social and contemporary work but, in my case, the plasticity of the image makes it important. It moves away from academic and social topics seen in documentary projects, World Press Photo and features. My approach is very different, but I’m still telling a story.

Sometimes, text accompanies the work in order to get closer to the viewer and break down the distance.

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However, I must say that my work culminates with the accompanying texts. But the point is not to explain the work, but none other to get closer to the viewer, to break down the distance.