..Louis I. Kahn, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1974
..Hahnemühle print from original bw negative
It is inevitable to start underlining the double condition, architect and photographer, of Iñaki Bergera. I have never
done it but in cases as his, one has the temptation –somehow venomous, I confess– of asking him what was first,
the egg or the chicken. I suspect, beyond of what my question could have of inconvenient –now it will be said of
politically incorrect– that in the course of his life both activities must be interweaved to the point of becoming a
whole from which one of them can’t be removed without impunity. But it also seems obvious to me that not setting
up some differences between one and the other activity does probably forces us to misunderstand both.
The relationship between photography and architecture is everything except new. It is said that photography and
city –understanding this one as the architectural domain resulting from the industrial revolution– are rigorously
contemporary. Yet, besides this contemporaneity, both share many aspects that won’t be difficult to notice if we
think in their relationship for a moment. It will probably sound a bit pretentious to state that the relationship between
photography and architecture is so intense that none of them can be thought without the other. Before someone
could infuriate, I will make clear that what I mean is that, from one moment on, the evolution of each one of these
fields couldn’t be understood without any reference to the other. Modern architecture can’t leave out a photographic
image that has shaped it to a certain extent and, at the same time, the history of photographic aesthetics would
suffer a very severe amputation if the enriching relationship with architecture would be eliminated from its pages.
At this point it is required to think –and more than one will be doing it– on the influence that has exerted, on this
regard, the marvelous photographs of marvelous buildings that we have in mind. But it is not a matter of that, or at
least not only. Regarding my point, it is maybe the less important issue. I have written once that, basically, monumental
greatness is more a difficulty than an advantage for the photographer that, from 1839 on, seems to move with ease
in the demolition of the old neighborhoods, in the oppressiveness of the alleys and in the banal details.
As an example I will say that I don’t have any doubt of the importance, in the history of our media, of the famous
photographs of skyscrapers taken by Alfred Stieglitz at the time modernity in photography was just starting to be
outlined. Yet I have to add that is the less distinguished city to more convenient to photography precisely because,
when we don’t recognized it, what takes root in our conscience is the certainty that urban, an almost ever anonymous
matter, has turned into the true “cosmos” of the photographer. If I have to choose, therefore, I prefer the districts of
Charles Marville, some “dull” spots of Atget, the geometrical compositions, made by an amateur geometer, of Albert
Renger-Patzsch, and the peripheral juxtapositions of Lee Friedlander.
Reviewing the photographs of Iñaki Bergera I have comfortable feelings. It is always pleasant to come across with
fond statements, proposals and visual canons in pictures that, let’s point it out clearly, are not architectural photographs,
even thought one may guess architectural issues and concerns every now and then (some of them very clear out of
many others, less obvious, that I am not qualified to identify). I love to recognize, indeed, the photographer condition
of this architect, but it delights me, in other words, because I have the feeling that when he looks through the viewfinder
he is able to leave it aside.
He probably does so because, as photographer, he needs as much freedom as possible and freedom is something
conquered from within, frequently assailing the territories next to the profound convictions. He is lead by curiosity, in
the best of meanings, which is also a virtue of photographers. Faced with excessive seriousness, his pictures go around
the anecdote and, in any case, underline a certain delicacy of the concepts he handles. His aesthetic anchorages
avoid any too modern distraction and establish their territory in the photographical tradition, specially the American,
which makes from the detailed observation and the capacity of astonishment –a light astonishment, kind I would
dare to say– his central element. And all that built from some technical basis whose interest in acquiring and enriching
highlights, once again, the authenticity of his convictions.
Iñaki Bergera is architect and photographer. If, as asserted at the beginning is inevitable to state that both things go
together, but it is also challenging to check that they make it in different planes, getting distinguished in their
complementariness, complement each other in their differences.
Carlos Cánovas, Photographer
[Text on ‘America, Paisaje Urbano', 2006]