Video by artist Gonzalo Lebrija
At one of the first Paris Photo Exhibitions, in 2003, the guest of honour was Mexico. Somewhat bored, I strolled among the stands. Then I came upon some photos that aroused my curiosity — the work of a Mexican
artist completely unknown to me. Among the pictures on display, one in particular caught my attention: a rifle stuck to a wall and aimed at a window. Later I learned that this was a ruse dreamed up by the artist to scare away the pigeons invading his attic on the top floor of the highest tower in Guadalajara. Of course, it didn’t work. I spoke briefly with the gallery owner and left a visiting card, asking him to be so kind as to pass it on
to the artist. I never heard any more about it.
Four or five years later, at a preview of the Lyons Contemporary Art Biennial, a female friend intro- duced me to a young artist. We had a few drinks together and he invited me to visit his exhibition the following day. A little later in the evening our paths crossed again. He asked me my name and said he recalled that quite some time before his gallery owner had mentioned a French- man who was interested in his work and who had left a card...We realised at the same moment that we were already acquainted, or at least that I was familiar with his work and he remembered my visiting card. The meeting on the following day took place, the exhibition was very successful and we decided to meet again and stay in touch. Since then Gonzalo has held two private exhibitions at my gallery and we have published a book. Thus my acquain- tance with Gonzalo Lebrija dates back several years.
If the circumstances of this meeting seem trivial, they nevertheless combine basic elements from much of his work: time, space, the distance between people, magic...
The series of photographs and 16-millimetre film entitled The distance between you and me (2009) involve, as is often the case in Gonzalo Lebrija’s work, a procedure. The procedure is a simple one: a camera
is set up on a stand in front of a deserted landscape, the timer is set, the artist faces the landscape with his back
to the camera and runs or, rather, appears to be running away, distancing himself from us as quickly as possible
in a reflex action that seems to result from an almost ani- mal-like instinct. The shutter closes and records the image of this man running with his back to us and the tracks left by his footsteps in the sand or snow. The distance covered depends on a number of factors, such as the camera timer setting, the type of terrain, the speed
at which the artist is running.
These records summarise a special relationship between time and space. But perhaps, above all, these solitary self-portraits in the midst of deserted landscapes highlight the more intimate relationship between the artist and other people as a metaphor for the relationship between the individual and reality, as if the intimate element that an artist’s work presumes to unveil can never be attained.