mercoledì 25 novembre 2009

Lodovico interviews Diana Borrego Martinez Gonzalez

Dear Diana,

I’d like to talk with you about Fred, in these months I felt close to him and now it looks  as though I knew him, and of course  that’s just a feeling.
I shook hands and looked into your eyes and that would be fine, but I have to know more as I have to write something more. If you agree, I would start now.

How did you happen to meet with Fred, el Tio Fred, lo Zio Fred, casi un padre, how was it and what was your impression when you got to know him?

I met Fred and Julia when I moved to San Jose with my son’s father who is Chileno.  Fred    and   Julia had worked with the church in helping the Chilean refugees settle in San Jose.  This is how and why I met Fred and Julia.
My first impression of Fred was that of a ruff man who spoke without thinking of the consequences but in reality he was speaking the truth.  Also, because he and Julia reminded me of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.  She was small and thin and he was tall a bit thick around the waist.

Family people leave a permanent mark in our heart , something  engraved that can’t be erased, that we bring along with us for good.  What do you think about it?

Fred and Julia were always there for me.  I was a single mother and they were my support system.  My son had a wonderful childhood because of them.  Fred was the scientist, the science teacher, the one who always provided lectures for us even when we did not want to hear them.  I and my son miss those lectures.  His wealth of wisdom, knowledge of life and world history.

Looking at the portraits that were shot by Fred, whom I never met, I got  two different kinds of feeling, a  deep melancholy and a sort of tiredeness or better a disillusion.
But I also felt  the eye of a man who was able to look further ahead, and that therefore could not bear the limits that all kinds of society impose.

(I may be wrong, but it happens to me when I look at pictures in general. I get influenced and carried away by them,. I know that’s not always the correct way, I am conditioned.)
What is your feeling about them?
He did not take random shots, his photos were always well planned, and well documented.  All of the individuals in his portraits you can be sure he spoke to them, more than once.  He loved talking to people, specially those whom he thought were interesting subjects and whose face, posture, or surroundings could tell a story. He spoke to all, social status was not a barrier. 
He was a very melancholy man and sentimental.  Just reading the newspaper would affect his mood.  He wanted the right solutions for everything. 
Tired and disillusion, yes very much so.  His family fled Europe because of Hitler and arrived in America to find a racist society with different laws for the whites than for the blacks.  This was very difficult for the family who had been outspoken in Europe and now could not in America because of the times and being recent immigrants.
He and Julia were involved in many struggles and after the Sixties things slowed down and the movement never really recovered.

What was your impression when you first discovered that Fred had shot so many photos?

I really did not know how many photos he had taken until after he died.

Do you remember what you felt when you  held one in your hands for the very first time?

This took a long time to happen because he didn’t show his photos often, it had to be a special time, or a visit from  someone he knew and they wanted to see his photos.  And, we all had to wear gloves, but first wash our hands well.
I lived with Fred and Julia (his wife) and the first time, I believe, was when he was printing and he brought up a print for Julia to see.  (His darkroom was in the basement of the house).  Julia was his critic and the observer.  I did not know much about photography but I loved his images, they told a story.

Today Fred’s photos have finally started telling their own stories from a place that is  very far away from where  they were originally shot.
Now such a discovery is being started from Italy, the first people that watched them are Italians.
It can possibly mean that big distances don’t exist anymore...
Is that so,or is it just that some people are able to look at, and understand the various tones and shades of the World?

Fred was a pesamista and a perfectionist.  Many times I asked him if we could do an exhibit at the public library in San Jose, but he worried that it would cost too much to frame the prints properly, and the space also had to be just right.  Fred was his own obstacle.  The first time we received the letter from Daniele Ravenna indicating his interest on having a show, it took Fred over a year or longer to commit to it.  He did not know what photo to send, how to send them, what action to take to make sure nothing happened to them, etc…
And all this time he had two portfolios he had prepared years back, with notations and all…but he could not get himself to send them, or would allow me to do it.  This finally got accomplished because Daniele Ravenna and Irene personally came to visite him in San Jose.
Yes, distance does not exhit anymore, something that was very difficult for Fred to acknowledge.  Most of his travels were done by either driving or taking the train.
You’re asking me if some people are able to look at, and understand the various tones and shades of the World...Well, I recall a story Fred told me about him being in Mexico and asking a lady for her opinion on two photos he had with him, one was taken and developed by someone else and the other by him.  The woman chose Fred’s picture.  He asked her why, her answer was because it looked like it was made (printed) more carefully, it was lovelier.  The woman was not wealthy, or educated, she was a peasant.  I think Fred thought of all individuals as being able to tell the differences between excellence and mediocrity.
Also, I believe that it takes an outsider to make these discoveries and then bring them back home.  This was the case with Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel. 

What was your impression about the inauguration?

I was in disbelief!  Finally Fred’s photos were on exhibit for a small portion of the world, the Italians, to see them.  The location, the cantina, seemed just right, perfect, for his exhibit.  The setting created a mood, melanconico
I was there, at the cantina, several days later, by myself for about 30 minutes.  The ambiente was all Fred, it filled my spirit and made me sad.  I cried remembering him and Julia. 
Thank you for all the time you have put on this project, without knowing Fred, and yet you captured his spirit in these questions you have asked of me.

Diana Borrego
2400 N. Main St., Unit E
Salinas, CA 93906
831 240 8601