This reprinting takes the form of a boxed set comprising a text by Agnès Sire, Director of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson and friend of Sergio Larrain, and a facsimile of the original 1963 edition of the latter’s first book. It’s a small hand-sewn book of forty-four pages containing a series of seventeen black and white images, mainly of the streets of Valparaiso and Santiago. Little girls descending a staircase, two anonymous people crossing the street. “I want my photography to be an immediate experience not something to be chewed over”, Serio Larrain said. “Photography, like any art, must be sought after in the depths of the self. The perfect image is a miracle, it happens in an eruption of light, of shapes, of the subject and in a clear state of mind – you press the shutter almost without knowing it – and so the miracle is created.”
Born into an upper-class family in Santiago in Chile, he abandoned his university career to take up photography. His poetic and artistic character, his search for the absolute made him uncomfortable in working for the press. Between the end of the 1960s and 1973, he gradually abandoned photography and withdrew for long periods into the countryside of Northern Chile, where he devoted himself to yoga, meditation and drawing. From 1978 until his death in 2012, he never left this place. “The visible reality but also the game of organising a rectangle are the basis of the photographic process, It’s the geometry that I seek, the rectangle in the hand (the camera). Photography: that is what (the subject) is given by geometry.”
The facsimile seeks to reproduce the original as faithfully as possible in terms of scale, colour and other material qualities. Here, the term has to be extended to mean a copy , complete with all its pages. The indisputable technical quality of the publication, the very broad dynamic of black and white doesn’t make me forget the slightly melancholic softness of the original edition.
Irène Attinger is Director of the library and the bookshop at the Maison européenne de la Photographie in Paris.
Sergio Larrain, El rectangulo en la mano
Publié par les éditions Xavier Barral