AMMAN — He could have walked in his father’s footsteps and developed a passion for the Middle East, or become a well-established lawyer; he could also just have continued his career as a journalist in Paris.
Instead, Vincent Catala followed his own path, one that took him to the world of photography, travelling to Brazil and Cuba, where he realised the series “The Island” showcased at Dar Al Anda Gallery within the framework of the Institut Français’ month-long Image Festival based on the theme “Macro & Me”.
“The Island” goes beyond the stereotypes on Cuba, with Catala questioning the relation between individuals and their surroundings through his photography.
“The island itself does not matter, it could be anywhere else in the world. My work is more about looking for traces of interaction between the territory and its individuals and describing an atmosphere,” Catala told The Jordan Times at the opening of his exhibition.
The photo series follow the steps of the self-taught photographer’s better half, Silvia, as she introduced him to her home country.
“I was guided by both Silvia’s past and Cuba’s history, with the economic problems it encountered when the Russians left [after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991], causing a massive exodus,” Catala said.
“There is a feeling of emptiness in Cuba that goes beyond the physical absence of people. It is as if there is an absence of dreams too.”
“The Island” is an ongoing project for the photographer who, inspired by its diversity and complexity, intends to go deeper “into the belly” of Cuba, all the way over to Santiago and capture the island’s many contrasting environments.
“I have a clear idea of what I want to do and I already have this image in my mind of an abandoned banana plantation, for example. I am not the reporter type and I tend to pre-visualise my work,” the photographer said, explaining that his approach is well thought out.
In the meantime, Catala, who divides his time between Paris and Rio de Janeiro, has already envisioned his upcoming project, to be shot in the Brazilian Cidade Maravilhosa.
Reflecting on the end of one world and the birth of another, he analyses the interaction between an expanding city and its residents.
“Rio is seen in a dual way, either through the lens of violence or one of paradise, but always as sensual. It was true before, but today, the city is increasingly Americanised and the Carioca [residents of Rio] tend to withdraw further into bubbles of isolation. The interaction is slowly fading away,” Catala explained, adding that it is the very complexity of the city that makes it interesting.
“I love being lost... losing all my landmarks opens new perspectives on my surroundings and although Rio has grown familiar by now, I can work more in depth on the city and try to capture this tipping point it is facing right now,” he said.
The exhibition continues until March 31.