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There is an element of serendipity in photography, especially in documentary photography, and even more so when one decides to work as a collective. Years will go by, and you will still think of the fortuity of how you met your colleagues, or how a group project started.
No exception for Portugal-based COLECTIVO which started as a six-photographers experiment three years ago, today the group is narrowed down to three photographers: António Pedrosa, Lara Jacinto and Miguel Proença, who share a strong interest about storytelling. The idea of working together on collective projects came from an artistic residency in the north-eastern border between Portugal and Spain. This experience also ignited the interest over exploring what remains of those vintage artifacts called European borders. For the past two years, the group has been following the invisible lines formerly dividing European countries. “At the beginning we thought that the differences between Spain and Portugal were greater…”, they say, but once they realized that this was not the case, they decided to extend their investigation to all European internal borders. As a result, today they feel that a borderland has more similarities than differences. “It is a unique space where communities mould reciprocally, there is a sort of blur between nations”.
The photographers travel independently to each country and spend time looking for visual traces along the two sides. What results is a coherent vision, a sharp portfolio of photographs about all that happens – and does not happen – along both sides of the border. A very distant image from the drama these areas lived not many years ago.
“At the end, a border is just a line, in mundane life there is no such thing”. Their project is strong, serene, upbeat. In years in which borders seem to gain a second life of regulations and controls, COLECTIVO is able to offer an accurate vision that transcends the most recent news, being anchored to the real everyday life of those who live along these lines.
COLECTIVO is a new reality, almost instinctive in its dynamics “COLECTIVO is where it all started, it’s our creative platform, that also gives momentum to each member”. They don’t force a stylistic homogeneity, but their vision is a result of a constant quest, resulting in a quiet yet distinct contamination. Keen on utilizing analogical cameras when feasible, they try to strike a balance between commercial work and personal research. The adhesive that keeps them together is bi-component, the strongest: part professionalism, part friendship. With room for discussions, like any healthy human relationship and without too much introspection: “We are a young reality, we need time before questioning our methods. Let’s try to talk about it again in five years”.
May it be so. In the meantime, we wait with anticipation for the end of the Thin Line project, now more than two-thirds completed. And the book they plan to print.