Borges told in his story ‘The ethnographer’ the story of a man of science, a devotee of the truth (perhaps a photographer), who after having lived in the heart of the tribes of the West and after having experienced the secret of the shamans, gave up in the face of the desperation of the Academy of effort necessarily useless to narrate the result of his investigation. “Those paths,” the character concluded, “must be followed.”
Who knows if in some of their past, present or future lives Cristina García Rodero (Puertollano, 1949) He has not been, is or will be a character of Borges himself. Like the protagonist of the story, he refuses to give explanations and as the only testimony of his way of doing, composing and looking, he simply offers his work, his hands, his photos. And it is perhaps there in the enigma, in the mystery, in the certainty that no secret is worth as much as the paths that led to it, where, suddenly, the author of the totemic book ‘hidden Spain’ (1989) acquires the size of giants.
“It’s very strange for me to go from chasing others to being the one who lets others follow me,” she says to explain in a succinct and somewhat plaintive way the meaning of the documentary. ‘The hidden look’ of which she is the protagonist. Despite herself, perhaps, but the protagonist nonetheless. For almost four years the director Charlotte Nelson He has literally become the shadow of García Rodero and has gone with her to every corner of the planet that he has stepped on, lived, sweated and, finally, photographed.
If something is clear after watching the film, it is that photography, for this 78-year-old woman who accumulates awards, honors and mentions and who was the first Spaniard to join the legendary Magnum agency, is just the opposite of what we do when We use the mobile camera. “I follow Robert Capa’s maxim that you must always be close. But close both physically and emotionally. I spare no effort. I put up with the tiredness, the sleep and the fear. And I suffer, I cry and I get emotional with who I photograph. And if out of respect I see that I shouldn’t take the photo, I won’t take it,” she says emphatically because there is nothing that García Rodero does not do or say emphatically.
He says that he has just arrived from Tamil Nadu, in India. He says that along with the photos he accumulates blisters, hours of jet lag and the anxiety of seeing oneself on the screen instead of, as is customary, seeing others. Everything is told at the Seminci in Valladolid, where the film that will soon hit theaters was presented a few weeks ago. There she is seen working tirelessly with water up to her neck to find the best image of the Virgin of Carmen, there she appears among burning brooms at the broomstick festival in Jarandilla de la Vera, there she is seen submerged in the mud in Haiti or among an explosion of colors in the India it comes from.