Last weekend I was fortunate enough to visit the Revela-T Festival at Vilassar de Dalt (Catalonia, Spain), a village 20 minutes away from Barcelona. Used to the weak sun in Berlin, I had to squint my eyes really hard to survive the flabbergasting sun in Vilassar (all that despite me being a spaniard myself, which makes all of this even more flabbergasting, and also kind of sad).
As soon as I came out of the bus, I engaged in a conversation with the first guy I saw wearing a T-shirt with the logo of the festival, and then another, and somehow I kept doing that from Friday till the very second I left on Sunday. Artists, villagers, photographers... no one seemed to find it annoying. On the opposite: every person there was nice, welcoming, and moreover, interesting.
One of them was our own Jesús Joglar who was just yesterday our featured artist for June. He organized the FSC NSEW exhibition shown in the former textile factory at Cal Garbart. Jesús is an active member of Revela-T and kind of a star among the pinhole community that recently met at Pinhole Day (which also took place this year in Barcelona).
What is Revela-T?
On their own words, just copy-pasted from their website:
Revela-T is a photo festival aiming to be a meeting point for photography lovers and especially for passionates of analogue photography. The amount of amateurs and professionals enthusiastic about analogue photography grows daily. This is why we think necessary to devote a few days and space to share experiences, knowledge, set up contacts with other people, institutions and companies working in the same direction. We want to encourage fans, especially those who see in these processes a new possibility to explore, without being limited to a single system.
We will avoid those aspects that are specific of the field of electronics and computers and not of photography, a pitfall inherent to digital technology. We want to promote the knowledge and interest in those other photographic processes in a time when digital technology dominates, a look towards the future for those convinced that there are other ways of doing photography and that deserve to be known and supported.
We will experience, see and discuss about photography but mainly we will live it and feel it. We will enjoy a broad program of exhibitions, lectures, debates, demonstrations, workshops, exhibition and sales stands, will have leading figures at national and international level … and many other surprises! Revela-T wants to gather together the dreamers, the non-conformists, the tireless, those who are not afraid to try and explore different paths. [...]
The Ten Rules of REVELA-T
When means and technique are limited, creativity is endless:
1. We love analogue photography based on chemical procedures that involve the use of a photosensitive material and its development and fixation to obtain an image.
2. We do not use any kind of digital sensor to capture the image.
3. We are committed in recovering forgotten photosensitive processes.
4. We believe in the photography made with calm.
5. We do not fear nor the chemical products neither the formulas.
6. We are fascinated by the darkroom magic.
7. The less electronics, the better.
8. We always prefer photography in a physical medium (paper, film, metal, glass, etc) although we also like digital.
9. We give our support to new talents that use this means to create.
10. We give our active support to the dissemination of historical photographers.
What I showed there
My series 'Dobles' (doubles) was part of the exhibition at Cal Galbart. The small polaroids seemed tiny (not only in size) surrounded by all kind of large format dry plates, wet plate installations, perfectly enlarged positives, and all possible analogue marvels.
‘Dobles’ is a series of emulsion lifts of color polaroids placed on monochrome polaroids. A portrait is by definition superficial, a two dimensional representation of a person. In order to show the person, one layer doesn't suffice.
‘Dobles’ is an attempt to show more through the juxtaposition and association of two or more emulsion layers. For the 'hidden' picture in the background only UV light was used. This light is found in the part of the spectrum invisible to the eye, was meant as a tool to look behind, to see what was hidden. For this exposure the subjects were asked to look neutral or think about something intimate. For the color picture, they were asked to act ‘natural’ or smile, as they would for a normal snapshot.
Both exposures are in fact somehow posed, there is no candid capture. But through the contrast or the association of both, a doubt is incepted in the viewer. The truth might be somewhere in between those, or maybe further away.
What i saw there
There was a total of 50 exhibitions from all kinds of analogue techniques and photographers from all over the world. The exhibitions were jaw-dropping. The works of masters like Masao Yamamoto, Michael Kenna or Juan Manuel Castro Prieto were food for the eyes and the soul. And the paella for 600 people took charge of the stomach.
And this is exactly the uniqueness of Revela-T: it's not only about good photography, it's also about community. After only its 4th edition, you see people hugging and laughing, you see a gang that gathers every year. You see the photographic work of more than 50 artists, and all the volunteer work behind its organization. It's inspiring. Around every corner you can see someone demonstrating and explaining a forgotten, self-improved analogue process (and for free!), sharing expert knowledge and jokes like some sort of big analogue familiy surrounded by crazy cameras and crazy chemicals. At Revela-T, photography is not only art, it's also a handcraft. And there, craftmen and -women are praised.
I can't wait to come back next year. To see what they've been up to and what new things are there to learn.