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Double Exposure – Fernando Guerra, the man and the work

The journey through the 20-year career of photographer-architect Fernando Guerra allows us to get to know and revisit images, distinguish new approaches in the act of photographing architecture, immerse ourselves in narratives created by bodies in the spaces studied, and discover singularities in his keen stare. It also allows us to identify a path full of moments of loneliness, of objects that tell stories of those who talk to us in airports, and meet the man who creates this work and transports us through it. In this double unveiling, curator Andreia Garcia, with this exhibition, wants to show us a path full of assertiveness and subtleties.

In a reading that discloses a remarkable archive through various layers of information, the story of Fernando Guerra and his photographs is presented to us in four moments, with flight cases designed by Diogo Aguiar Studio. Is there a better object capable of storing and developing this story than the one that guarantees its portability? And, with that, we also begin a journey.

In the first moment, entitled Antecâmara da história seguinte, we discover Fernando Guerra as an architect, on his way to Macau, who begins to create a remarkable digital archive of images of Portuguese architecture, opening doors to an international journey. His first analogue cameras; the references to childhood with his brother Sérgio, his land companion on this great journey; his passion for cars; the first names who believed in his gaze. In the world, the idea of the viral image beyond the covers of well-established magazines was still known, but his footprint was already noteworthy in works such as that of Aires Mateus or Ricardo Bak Gordon.

Efabulações appear in the second moment, when international recognition is attained. The way he captures the world, but also how the world is marking and changing him; travel items; the awakening of dreams; the fascination for the tropical. At a time when Portuguese architecture was going through a crisis, the way in which it had been revealed abroad by his own photos brought him many invitations from all corners of the world; images highlighted in many publications; an ambition possibly translated into unsolved symbols, for instance in the astronaut gloves here revealed.

In the third suitcase, we have Lugar comum, revealing a bit of what was consolidated with his dialogues with Álvaro Siza, a journey of constant discovery of the master’s work, the loyalty of the lens that tells a story of friendship and complicity also on the move. This is the box that Fernando Guerra says it is not necessary to talk about: it has all the words that must be said.

Tempo depois is the last moment of the exhibition. It tells us stories of gestures, of actions that mark a certain time in a certain space, the fleeting nature of the moment in the eternalization of the image. People who increasingly become protagonists – they are no longer the scale only, but also the soul of the image. An intimate and bold look in his shyness. What does he seek in the world beyond his own origin?

Fernando Guerra, who does not like to appear before the camera, now presents himself in an unprecedented way. The inability to not know how to disconnect himself ensures him a way of life. Twenty years of photographing architecture cannot be translated into photographs alone. Here, we see the work trip, the innocence of a boy who wants to conquer the world, the passion for a new light at an unknown angle, and the passion for the look of the person being photographed; the man who takes the camera and uses it for its functionality; and the man fascinated by design.

The possibility opened up by Últimas Reportagens of getting to know contemporary architecture leads us to exhaustive narratives about hundreds of works, in an archive that deserves to be studied, which has become a space for dissemination. Double Exposure allows us to understand what motivates those who create an archive, the hours, the times and the non-places of those who live on the move. But he chooses the right time, with the right light, between a contained pleasure and an obsessive professionalism, understanding exactly the story he has to tell.

In this exhibition, the important thing is the value of the images, but also the value of the relationships that sustain each image. They do not always reveal how special a session was, the life of a traveller is not always glamorous, knowing the man behind the lens is not always worthy. But this is different, the story properly told, in a tasty balance between what should be revealed and the curiosity about what should not.

The exhibition can be visited at Roca Lisboa Gallery until 18 January.

Fabrícia Valente holds a degree in Architecture from the University of Évora (pre-Bologna) and has training in complementary areas such as video, photography and the production of temporary exhibitions. She is an active curator (eg KAIROS Pavilion), Critic (she is the editor of the online section of Architecture of the Umbigo Magazine and is part of the J–A editorial team) and works in Cultural Mediation (Museu Colecção Berardo and MAAT) on more than 90 exhibitions. She collaborates with several entities in the search for multidisciplinarity between Architecture, Plastic Arts and Music, areas where she develops research works.

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