For the past decade, Jesus Madriñan has been photographing young club goers as a kind generational portrait. He’s inspired by the clubs he visits, even though he himself feels alienated from them, because he feels their deep connection to his generation. The exhibition Good Night presents four series which examine the way an artificial environment becomes central to the formation of these young people’s identities. The first, Good Night London (2011), was taken during his time as a student. When he returned to Galicia in 2013 he began working on Boas Noites (Good Night), which documented clubs situated on the waysides of Spain’s northwest rural areas. The difference between the shining London metropolis and the wild, unkempt vegetation of the suburb is palpable, but young people’s desire to see and be seen, to let loose and meet others their age, is evident in both series. The third series, Dopo Roma (After Rome, 2016) was taken outside Roman clubs and focused on those who stay and party until 8:00 AM. His 2017 series expanded the frame to include the subjects’ surroundings as well.
This is a journey of exploration as well as Madriñan’s tribute to the outgoing nature of his generation. Even as screens take over the day-to-day lives of those who grew up in this age, the unmediated meeting point is a highlight for many – a feeling exacerbated by the forced social distancing of the global pandemic.
Madriñan uses a large-format analogue camera in an effort to revive the portrait as an artistic genre. The use of an exacting photographic technique in such spontaneous situations is something of a paradox, but Madriñan does not instruct his subjects – rather, he deliberately looks away from them as the picture is being taken in order to allow his subjects, members of the “selfie generation”, to create an honest and intimate professional self-portrait. There’s a magnetic feel to his works which stems from the contrast between the noise and tumult of the subjects’ surroundings and the static, peaceful atmosphere of the photograph itself.
Ya’ara Raz Haklai