André Cepeda could be described as a flâneur, endlessly browsing for precise images, for clichés that translate his relation to the city, for pictures to construct a portrait of the city as intimate as that of its author.
In Moving, Cepeda approached the issue in a different manner: he no longer used the images offered to him by the city, but goes searching for clichés, in a way consciously constructed ones.
To go quickly from one place to another, we no longer walk, we move; one doesn't look anymore, one senses. Once the urban effervescence is overcome — its images, its occurrences – it is the absence of landscape that embraces us. To link two places becomes, as such, like linking two images. These transit spaces are not places, precisely because there are no images, nor words, to define them.
Cepeda's photographs are uncluttered, but never poor; they seem to be construed using an almost organic geometry. The framing is rigorous, frontal, neutral.
He cuts out static images from the landscapes we only perceive whilst moving.
At a first glance, they seem "objective," they seem to show us the world without taking any sides. But at a closer glance, these places – conceived to be insignificant – are each touched by a distinctive light that projects a feeling; that embodies them. The light reflects a state of mind, and Moving becomes more than the witnessing of a walk, it becomes the witnessing of a journey. Here, the wandering is within.
In fact, the project could recall this experience known to us all, but difficult to share. That moment of a long journey in which neither the time nor the place are yet important, in which one finds oneself alone facing oneself, lost in one’s thoughts. When the images of the city are gone, the flâneur becomes a passenger, alone in his own solitude.
It is because it is not possible to establish a relation with these transit spaces that one is forcefully confronted with oneself. Originating from a functional thought, they restrain anyone from stopping, at the risk of cluttering the system, or shattering it.
However, the undertaking of Moving could be precisely to let itself be inhabited by these non-places, to stop and transform them into places.
André Cepeda took his time, carrying a technical camera, a heavy device that requires some patience. He went to, then returned to, these places, sometimes dangerous places, and returned several times to the same image so that every game of light would be the exact reflection of a state of mind. It is through this unhurried approach that the author allowed himself the possibility to invest in these spaces of fast circulation. It is up to us to do the same.
These pictures embodied in light evoke an essential experience of photography. The transit spaces could be considered as a way of hollowing out the subject, of reducing the image into its constituent elements, in order to offer a minimalist experience, a profound experience. One might even be tempted to compare the pictures of Moving to monochromatic painting; the one that, through minimal means, invites the viewer to share a spiritual experience. In Moving, it is the light and the framing that compose the image, whereas the subject – the spaces to which one has no relation – remits the viewer to himself, exactly like the monochromes.
It is therefore as mental landscapes that the pictures of Moving should be read, like the fragments of an inner road-movie.
Two less abstract pictures have made their way into the series. Are they unconscious pictures? Did they impose themselves like some sort of automatic writing? Like daydreams brought on by the long journeys?
They punctuate the journey, participating in the mental landscape and functioning like counterpoints, and at the same time allow the viewer to identify him-/herself with the photographer's look.
In Moving, André Cepeda thinks about the relation between the static picture and the moving images. Mobility is the sole object of these non-places, their only purpose being the dislocation of people or things. At the same time, these are spaces that remain "indefinitely with no past nor future," as Marc Augé formulated it. The time and the space cease to have a meaning.
Besides, the way in which the photographs are presented – in lightboxes – takes part in this reflection. Originating from the world of advertising, these boxes are not made for being contemplated, but are rather intended to transmit a clear message within a fraction of second. Therefore, the lightbox is not conceived to freeze the movement, but to accompany it. It must impose itself to a spectator that is him-/herself moving.
The pictures display the same ambiguousness, they seem conscious of their own shortcomings. Their framing pushes the spectator's look beyond the image, it summons up an outside field. It is this experienced lack, this need to complete the landscape, that forces the spectator to pass on to the following picture, and so forth. But very quickly, like in a dream or in the cinema, the picture will impose itself on the spectator. Finally, it will be necessary to return to it. Because these lightboxes invite the spectator to let him-/herself be penetrated, to give into a perpetual shifting movement between the image and him-/herself.
The image becomes a piece of an open narrative, with no beginning nor end. Sometimes a fragmented travelling, sometimes an autonomous and meditative image, Moving displaces the viewer between different temporalities. This to-and-fro, these perpetual changes in the relation that he establishes with the pictures, will make him into a flâneur.
Text by Johan Vonck (February 2006)
(translation by por Ana Yokochi)