Intergalatico, by Guilherme Gerais

At first sight, the book does not look like a photobook. You could easily imagine finding it in the middle of the shelves in the esoteric area of a public library. But at the same time, the cover has a strong design, very attractive ! You understand immediately that you will not find banality inside.

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Hardcover book with the inner spine half attached to make it easy to open and read. Apart from the cover, every photos and drawings are in black and white. 20 x 30 cm, 184 pages with photos by Guilherme Gerais and illustrations by Arthur Duarte. Published by Avalanche.

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Well, it is not an easy book to review because, in my opinion, it refers to the unconscious, thus everybody will have his own reading and his own discovery.

The book begins with a series of grainy photos with a kind of crosslinking effect. Inserted between the pages you find a card with an introduction text which resonates like a voice, heard while looking at the photos. In a very cinematographic way, it works like a pre-generic of a film. Your view is blurred, the scale changes. You understand you’ll have to be available for a journey in the unknown. After this sequence of 9 pictures, you finally discover the title of the book which does not appear on the cover. If you’re a bit fast, you may even miss it !

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So the trip begins here, with the title. To explain further what is inside the book, I have two references in mind. The first one would be the surrealists with all their collage experimentations. The book works with series of photos or illustrations which alternates and sometimes reappropriate a visual: footprints interlace paving stones, a pancake on a screen print… And between each series a drawing which sends us back to an esoteric world made of unconsciousness, astrology, tarot cards and predictions. It is like exploring a world made of rooms in which you enter passing through different doors. You never know what you’ll find behind the next door, even if it is already written somewhere in your mind.

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All those impressions are strongly reinforced by the choice of the views. On a photo, you discover a key, in some others, you find a path which attracts you like a magnet. Somewhere else in the book, you’re lost in a desert with the shadows of vultures watching you ; you almost feel thirsty and exhausted…

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The second reference I have in mind is the book written in 1968, “The teachings of Don Juan” by Carlos Castaneda. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that Guilherme Gerais is a Brazilian photographer, so Latin America shares spiritual knowledges, but the book becomes an initiatory journey (I have, here, no interest in the controversy about Castaneda’s book, knowing if the book was an anthropological essay or a novel). The sequencing of the book drives you through series from an asleep to an awake state. Your view is blurred and the reality becomes altered, the scales flip your mind, then you suddenly concentrate on a detail, and the landscape, or the room, around becomes incredibly focused; your view is accurate as never before and you discover an augmented reality. Things you’ve seen print in your mind, built a memory made of interlaced objects. It creates a confusion between the past, the present and the future. You don’t know if you’ve seen it before or if it is a foreknowledge.

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And last detail, if this was not enough, you find a little booklet inserted at the end of the book. The booklet seems to be made of rayograms (another reference to surrealists), shadows and stellar recordings. A kind of sketchbook done during the experience, the memory put on paper, traces engraved, an uncertain proof of an uncertain reality. Those images remind me the so-called photos of the Loch Ness monster: a representation of what we expect to see !

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By what I have written above, you may understand that Intergalatico is a very strong and innovative work, but to fully appreciate it, you have to make you available for it. But once you’ve entered it, the book becomes addictive and you create your own reading, flipping randomly through pages.

More info on Guilherme site : http://www.guilhermegerais.com/

While visiting the Tipi Bookshop in Bruxelles, I have seen copies on the counter, so you may also buy it there : http://www.tipi-bookshop.be/

Guilherme will be signing his book at L’Ascenseur Végétal, on Saturday 15 November, during Le Photobookfest in Paris : http://www.lephotobookfest.com/

All images copyright Guilherme Gerais and Arthur Duarte.

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