Stunning, isn't she?
I discovered a new gallery space in Salamanca today: the Sala de Exposiciones Santo Domingo de la Cruz, at the end of the Arroyo de Santo Domingo, on the grounds of the convent of San Esteban. It's an airy, beautifully restored space, with a garden and man-made gurgling "brook" to guide you through the courtyard to the exhibit hall.
The image above is a scan of the program of the current exhibition: Campesinas, a collection of 66 photos of the most gorgeous campesinas you can imagine. Campesinas in their doorways and in their kitchens. In the fields they still work. Passing through the forest with a burro and in the plazas of their pueblos, singing their hearts out for the camera. The photos are breathtaking and moving, as is a film pieced together from interviews and spontaneous songs recorded during 20 years of field work on horseback. Carbajal and her husband, Suárez, spent 20 years seeking out Spain's oral tradition in the stories, romances, legends, songs and lives of a generation of rural men and women in northwestern Spain and northern Portugal.
The exhibition brings together 66 of the more than 7000 photos taken by Carbajal and Suárez in rural pueblos of the provinces of Salamanca, León, Zamora, Asturias and northern Portugal. They found the women they met, many in their 80s and 90s, more open, more communicative and more willing to enthusiastically share the oral history they carried with them than their male counterparts -- if they were also more self conscious about being photographed.
The film is a wonderful visual quilt of stories, songs and laughter. But the photos! If ever you wondered whether a photo could tell a story, whether a face could tell you the stories of dozens and dozens of years -- if ever for a moment you've deceived yourself about the stunning beauty of an old face -- I wish you a quick trip to Salamanca, and the Sala of Santo Domingo.