Jordi Bernadó

This small, impeccable show complemented and updated “World Wide Works 1993–2007,” the comprehensive survey of Jordi Bernadó’s work presented at the Centre d’Art la Panera in Lleida in 2007. At Galeria Senda’s exhibition, Bernadó showed new photographs of Rome, Dubai, Barcelona, and other cities, as well as a small selection of earlier works. Almost all of the photographs shown came from different series, but there was an underlying thread that unifies the scenes: They all looked like stage sets. The ruined house in Detroit #01, 2006, the rocky structures of Roman fountains in the diptych Fontana de Treva (Roma #01 Roma #02), 2007, and the stones from León in northern Spain (Vegacervera, León #01, 2006) all look as if made of papier-mâché. Nonetheless, as in most of his work, the photographs are representations of real places, not of models, and they have not been manipulated so as to falsify the resulting image. Hence, Bernadó’s photography continues to explore that innate and structural issue of the photographic medium: its place on the thin line between the true and the false.

For Bernadó, this ambivalence between truth and fiction is, however, more an outgrowth of the work than a point of entry. Indeed, for some time, he has been interested in the stories he comes across on his journeys—his photography is a product of his travels. Through a sort of productive curiosity, he reconstructs and reworks these stories until they become images. Behind his photographs lie true stories, situations, and bits of news that he then turns into portraits of these events and of their telling. Knowing this is key to understanding his work. Though his severe language is in keeping with the German school (objective photography, centered vision, landscapes without people), his work has an explicitly literary quality. These photographs retell small, unlikely episodes that are, nonetheless, anchored in reality. Like postcards, his photographs are of specific places, after which the works are titled literally or with playful allusions. Though they convey narratives of real events, the images here do not reproduce the predictable but rather the absurd, the eclectic, the ironic. The hotel architecture of Dubai #08, 2008, for example, could be captioned with some words on the contemporary delirium that motivates this new El Dorado; and alongside the ruins of old Detroit hotels might be scribbled memories of a glorious past. Like real postcards, Bernadó’s images have a hidden side bearing bits of news, not from nowhere but rather from very specific places that seem to have gone mad.

Martí Peran

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.