Mario Algaze

A claim to inmortality

/ 25 November, 2016

Photography has, at the same time, an antithetic gift of timelessness and infinitude. After the distinctive click of the shutter, a unique instant, evasive and unrepeatable, privileged by the eye of the photographer (chosen among so many thousands of other instants that in this very moment stopped existing) is frozen forever—exiled from time, coagulated in a sort of spell that is only made (reactivating itself once and again) in each new pupil who dares with the silvery surface. This sine qua non condition of the photographic action summarizes in essence the ultimate task of an extraordinary process: the claim to immortality.

(…) The path that takes Mario Algaze (Havana, 1947) to photography is vividly associated with an inner need of self- knowledge and affirmation. In 1960, 13 years old, Algaze migrates with his father to Miami and, in 1971, with 24 years, avidly begins the incursion in photography. The years of work as an independent photographer for various national and international publications begin shaping the formal style that would mark the entire work of the artist, characterized by spontaneity, natural light and impeccable composition.

Although his work as photo-reporter at the beginning of the 1970’s gives testimony in an outstanding way of the world of American culture of the moment from stars like Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, B.B. King and Grace Slick, to the countercultural movement, it is not until his first visit to Mexico, in 1974, that Mario Algaze, suddenly, discovers the real task photography will have for him: “Mexico meant the reunion with my own identity, a turn to my roots”—Algaze recalls. (…)

Invariably, Algaze’s photography is impregnated with a high lyric value and a sort of mysterious halo determined, in first instance, by the masterly use of white and black in Silver Gelatin, as well as the skillful management of natural and artificial light and the control of the depth of field. Both, light and depth of the field, become two crucial factors of a psychological value for the artist.

(…) In 1999, after 39 years of absence of his natal space, Algaze returns to Cuba, summarizing the circle of searches of that split identity, now vast and polyhedral. His visit to the island thus incorporates the unrepeatable mosaic of images, testimony and poetry at the same time, of this magnificent and colorful context Latin American reality is.

Although Mario Algaze’s work is inscribed within the tradition of Latin American photography, he is distinguished from it because of the positioning of the artist. Witness and chronicler that assumes, in his own words, “the third position”, this understood as a neutral position. Away from pre-made ideological positions, Algaze’s work is, above all, a touching and selfless look, a magnificent gift that leaves the last word in the hands of the viewer. (…)

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