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By Pedro Meyer
As we welcome the year 2011, it seems we are almost in the world of tomorrow, and still so many things have a thread to how we have always been.
Of course we have the internet which wasn’t in our lives just a few years ago, and of course we have social networks that also were not present in our lives earlier, nothing to say of being able to speak long distance to all my friends across the globe almost for free.
However, ageing has not changed at all. Maybe these days we wither a bit later, but withering none-the-less is part of our existence. Be that with nature around us, or ourselves. Yes, plants seem to be moving along with climate changes into uncharted?territory, but they don’t last forever, just as they didn’t before.
It used to be that I kept all my correspondence in folders, that is, in the analog era, I am talking about. All the letters from friends and family have been kept neatly stacked, over the years.
I have to admit that the volume of correspondence increased exponentially in the digital era, but what I though at some point was a very simple solution, that of keeping the archives for later retrieval, just as I did with my analog era correspondence, has proven to be an exercise in wishful thinking.
My digital files of the late nineties, are just about lost. With word processors having been superseded with new generations and functionalities, the files became unreadable. I am sure that some high tech outfit could find a way to unlock that information, but at what cost?
Along the years as I changed and moved from one computer to another, what I thought was a simple solution, like moving furniture from one place to another, as when you need to change residence, this turned out to be a less than stellar performance. OK, I was able to move the desk, but alas, where did the drawers I had in the desk and their content land? they seem to have gone to another world.
These days, moving between computers, and between programs, and now between these and social networks, I can’t even recall if the message I sent was over FaceBook, email, gmail, ichat, or what have you. I don’t remember if I responded from my cell?phone, from my iPad, my lap top, or my desk top computer. It all seems to have gone into a world of dispersion. I do hope that information again, on a cloud, be that the message was originated on what ever machine I had at hand at any given moment. Control-F, might become handy at such a juncture once again.
In that sense, ageing is a good thing, in that any process needs to mature before it can reach a stage of becoming more efficient or practical. As Charles De Gaulle would write: ” Nothing lasts unless it is incessantly renewed”.
I strongly believe that ageing is precisely that, the need to renew everything. We tend to look upon ageing as this need to hold onto something, probably life. When in fact life, flourishes precisely when we don’t hold on to it, but renewed constantly.
Probably the contradiction comes from the fact that I might have to loose, for someone else to gain someplace, and we don’t look fondly on the idea of loosing. Since this is going to happen, regardless of my better opinion, I believe we might as well not waste precious moments, chasing after false hopes, that somehow will not materialize, but instead concentrate on the constructive nature of ageing as seen from a wider perspective than just the I, as an individual.
If I manage to view myself in the larger construct of the world at large, I might not even have the feeling of being subject to a losing proposition, but rather the opposite. My fare is tied to a universal nature, as the yogi said to the hot dog vendor: “Make me one with everything”.

Heresies: Between Truths and Fiction

The project Heresies is a retrospective of one of the most innovative artists of the world, comprising five decades of photographic work. The exhibition ?Heresies: a retrospective by Pedro Meyer? will open simultaneously in nearly 60 museums around the world in October, 2008, and it will be a major breakthrough in the way photographic work is exhibited.

Mexican photographer Pedro Meyer is recognized widely both for his provocative and powerful images and his pioneering work of in the digital imaging era. The photographs of Meyer consistently question the limits between truth, fiction and reality. With the advent of digital technologies at the early 90’s, Meyer evolved from a documentary photographer, who created what is known as “direct images”, to a digital documentary maker, who combines elements of different photographs to arrive to a higher or different truth. His famous statement that every photograph, either digitally manipulated or not, is both truth and fiction, has earned him being called a ?Heretic? in the orthodox world of documentary photography. Hence the origin of the title, ?Heresies: a retrospective by Pedro Meyer?. Amongst the personal contributions of Meyer to the development of digital photography we should underscore: the creation of the first CD-ROM that combined images with sound, the first digital printings in the world, in 1994; and more recently, the creation of the photographic forum, the most visited photography website -content-wise-in the Internet.

35mm color transparencies | Digitally modified image.
The Strolling Saint. Place: Asunci?n Nochixtl?n, Oaxaca, Mexico. Original: 1991. Last version: 1993. Technique: 35mm color transparencies | Digitally modified image.
35mm b/w negative.
My Mother Would Have a Brain Hemorrage. Place: Mexico City, Mexico. Original: 1987. Technique: 35mm b/w negative.

Original digital file.
Rickshaw Art. Place: Dhaka, Bangladesh. Original: 2004. Technique: Original digital file.

35mm b/w negative.
The Raincoat. Place: Frontera, Tabasco, Mexico. Original: 1987. Technique: 35mm b/w negative.

35mm color transparencies | Digitally modified image.
The Temptation of the Angel. Place: Magdalena Jaltepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. Original: 1991. Last version: 1991. Technique: 35mm color transparencies | Digitally modified image.

Original digital file | Digitally modified image.
Emmanuel Lubezki. Place: Los Angeles, California, USA. Original: 2002. Last version: 2002. Technique: Original digital file | Digitally modified image.

Original scanned document.
Five Dollars with Che. Place: Los Angeles, California, USA. Original: 1999. Technique: Original scanned document.

6x6cm b/w negative & original digital file | Digitally modified image
The Meyers. Place: Mexico City, Mexico. Original: 1940. Last version: 2000. Technique: 6x6cm b/w negative & original digital file | Digitally modified image

Not only that, Pedro Meyer also has been leader, spokesman and chief organizer of the Latin American photographers as a group, thus putting Latin American photography in the world map of the Arts. In Heresies, Meyer applies his extraordinary and visionary capacity by redefining the very concept of photographic exhibition. It makes us question: What is a photographic exhibition nowadays? How will they be in the future?

In an era in which museums suffer from strong economic restrictions and their role as authoritative institutions in the world of the arts is being redefined, the new and heretical paradigm for the photographic exhibition that Meyer presents facilitates:

– The creative collaboration between curators and artists

– A world-wide network of 60 museums participating in the Heresies project

– An innovation in the way photographic research is done as well as the possibility for institutions to enrich their collections

– Stimulating educational programs that attract the attention of the iPod generation.


Opening Date: 8 October 2008, 5 pm
Exhibition Duration: 8- 20 October 2008 (3-8 pm every day)


All printed on: 310 gsm acid free cotton Hahnem?hle paper


The journey from Mexico to Bangladesh had not been kind to the print. It had been bent in places and was somewhat ragged at the edges. The strong red was a colour I’ve since learnt to associate with Mexico and the unusual palette was something I later learnt to link with digital prints of that time. The striking image of a fish being cooked was riveting enough to get me to immediately try and straighten the battered print, and get it framed. It was one of the few prints on my wall. But alongside the print was a letter from a man I knew and was fond of, but had never met, or spoken to. It was a hand written note that talked of his excitement at seeing the thermal print emerge from the printer. I could relate it to the same excitement that both he and I had felt when the blacks begin to appear in the developing tray in a darkroom. This was his first print on his new printer, and he had sent it all the way to Bangladesh.
Pedro Meyer was a giant in the photography scene. As we got to know each other from opposite ends of the globe, my curiosity grew. It was 1994. I had a show in the festival in Arles. Pedro was having a much bigger show of his digital prints on canvas. Rahnuma, Ma and I arrived at the gallery, where Pedro was showing his new CD ROM, ‘Truths & Fiction”. Assuming I was Hispanic, Pedro asked if I would like to see the Spanish version of the CD. I smiled and said, “I would love to see a Bangla version.” “Ah” he said. “I must introduce you to my Bangladeshi friend Shahidul Alam. He’s in town.” That was how we finally met. Recovering from his bear hug, once I’d revealed who I was, I settled down in a quiet room to watch “I photograph to remember.” It was one of the most moving storytelling I had ever seen. The fact that it was the first CD to use images and sound, was relevant. But it was the tender and poignant portrayal by a son of his parents’ final days that had moved me to tears. We stayed friends, and went through the gamut of communication. Snail mail, telex, fax, off-line email and Skype, discussing images, sharing stories, arguing finer points on digital technology.
Throughout his long career, this remarkable artist has combined his visual genius with unbridled wit, and a work rate that would tire photographers a fraction of his age. This latest exhibition, yet another global first, is evidence of that untiring drive to innovate. He is a heretic. He says NO. At every stage where you might feel comfortable, he forces you to rethink your firmest beliefs and question your perceptions of truth and fiction.
Shahidul Alam
29th September 2008