Night Diary is the photographic chronicle of the nocturnal wanderings of Spainsh photographer, Germán Peraire. They are impressions captured by a man astray in the night, wandering through nameless bars and town squares surveying an uncertain metropolis as he encounters a cacophony of clatter and hum, echoing from this subterranean urban nightscape. Employing a simple, but raw pallet of high key black and white tones, Germán collects shadows and intimacies punctuated with hints of gender blur and irreverence.
The images in Night Diary unravel as a series of scenarios, like a collection of one act plays, each with its own distinct narrative. The photographs reverberate with pathos and pain, laughter, love, and desolation. Some moments vibrate with the vapours of alcohol, others rattle with a distinct surrealism from an in-between world. A world where conventional boundaries of sexuality and sensuality blur. Madness tumbles forth in ways one can only stumble upon when on walkabout in the early morning hours before night lifts and is replaced by the harshness of dawn. In the blazing morning light, these impressions are obliterated immediately like a vampire burned by the sun, but when encountered in the intensity of night, spotlit under garish streetlights, the shadows that fall become epic and the subjects hold centre stage with bold defiance.
Night Diary also pays homage to what the artist describes as, the Spanish way of encountering the night – “people are drawn together with no determined final destination, but with a desire to be immersed in the energy of the moment present.” Enacted on a stage of narrow streets in the old town of Barcelona, Germán seeks other “night wolves” like himself, who grapple with personal phantoms, and like him, contemplate their existence while wandering aimlessly. He searches within this sea of outsiders for kinship, even if only for a brief few moments. Amid the messy, unkempt implied decadence, Germán seeks to discover and record with his camera a purity, a secret beauty within, lying underneath the crust of this frenetic night force that holds him spellbound.
The streets are a playground for his subjects where they act out expressionistic tales and he watches, as if from the window of a train—distant, an outsider, among outsiders. His resulting impressions reveal a deep loneliness, a fathomless, creatural hunger based on an instinctual need to belong somewhere with someone, even if only a few desperate moments. He intimately records the energy exchanged between himself and his subjects, almost as if he has been able to find a way to crawl under their skins and feel their existence first hand. They stare out from his images with an openness and affinity that leaves the viewer curious as to the relationship between artist and subject.
With the eyes of a street poet, Germán employs chiaroscuro as his spoken vocabulary, to release the sound of the crowd—the resonance of their raw emotion pours forth from their gaze. There is a strong sense of respect for these night wanderers in their quests resonating from each image, whether their journey seems to be but a brief moment of experimentation and philosophical exploration, or if the streets take the form of a prison with no escape—a permanent residence not of choice, but of inevitability. This candid honesty which is ever-present throughout Germán’s images in Night Diary, expresses no sentimentality, only this incredible sense of an implied collaboration between artist and subject, like an ephemeral bridge of understanding, constructed in a fleeting moment.
Germán describes Night Diary as the first major opus in his photographic career. He feels at present it is but a sonata, the tip of an iceberg that he will continue to develop into a full-blown symphony over time. His aim is to portray “a hedonist, marginalised humanity seeking pleasures,” but he also catches in his photographic net the other souls, those who get disoriented and lost in the night and can find no escape. The images are the reflection of his personal universe that he finds scattered around him in these night explorations. Throughout the work is a sense of homesickness, restlessness and homelessness, comprised into an unforgettable cantos, affirming this endless search for essence, identity and belonging by humanity. The visual tune is powerful, pounding with a steady bass rhythm of a perhaps tattered, but indomitable hope.
TEXT BY PEGGY SUE AMISON
©Picture: German Peraire
Represented by Galeria Togomago, Barcelona