(Barcelona, Spain, 1951)
—Installation Antiga Estació (Map)
Socotra, La isla de los genios (Socotra, the Island of Genies) is a profound, subtle work with different aspects. Using both image and word, the writer, photographer and filmmaker Jordi Esteva transports us to this marvellous island lost in the Indian Ocean which, almost four hundred kilometres from the coasts of Arabia, has preserved its primordial flora and fauna. For centuries, Indian, Greek and South Arab sailors and traders came here, drawn to the island by the value of the fragrant resins of its frankincense and myrrh trees.
Esteva’s gaze eschews the orientalist temptation so common among Western travellers, and focuses on his personal experiences to reveal a world hidden from the world. As the author himself writes in the literary narrative of his journey:
“I wanted to go out into the world and make the exotic cease to be exotic. That is to say, to stop being different and threatening. This is what I was aiming for. To look for the worlds that were disappearing”.
Apart from their documentary nature, these black-and-white photographs reveal a dreamlike landscape in which time passes more slowly within the time of legends and oral narratives. Esteva’s images seem to quiver like the flames of a fire under the night sky. These portraits and images of open spaces, full of smoke and fog, show us the island dreamed by the artist. The Socotra he saw.