Collecting (16) — Trilogia (Trilogy)

Trilogy was the first of a two-part photographic project called The Sacred and the Profane, proposed and curated by Jorge Calado in the year 2000. The idea focuses on the long-time tradition of documental photography inspired by humanism, of which Roy Striker’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) photo-team is the perfect paragon. In fact, the second part of the project consisted in a show and another catalog called Terra Bendita (The Good Earth), with FSA and FSA-related photographs. Trilogy is the present-day supplement of The Good Earth. It is also a self-contained, solid photo-book, with a deep character, that will certainly stand the test of time.

Trilogy commissioned three photographers, Paulo Catrica, José M. Rodrigues and Mark Power, to portray the activities of the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation, in Alentejo, a region of southern Portugal that, due to its history, climate and geography, has a recent past that reminds the rural USA during the Great Depression years. Ten years ago, when Trilogy and The Good Earth were presented, Alentejo wasn’t anymore that desolated land of the mid-twentieth-century. However, the arid landscape, the desertification and the tradition of wealthy landowners weaves eternal braids between today’s “granary of Portugal” and a past of suffering.

Power, Catrica and Rodrigues presented three highly personal works that were then unified by the curator’s sharp and sensitive vision. Jorge Calado (of whom I am honored to be a friend and, in a sense, an apprentice) is a remarkable man with an amazing knowledge on photography in each one if its aspects. He took the work of three photographers with rather distinct styles and created a consistent whole, dotted by rimes and small stories. The book is beautifully designed, printed and finished, as usual in Calado’s publications, and the sequences, scale and rhythm are perfectly mastered by the curator. Together with The Good Earth, this is a must in every collector’s bookshelf. (For those of you who are familiarized with Portuguese photography and the work of Catrica and Rodrigues, it might be a surprise to see that the first proposed a series of black-and-white photos, while Rodrigues’s project is mainly in color. Well, don’t be surprised.)

Carlos Miguel Fernandes

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