Joseph-Philippe Bevillard: “Mincéirs” 

“We want all travelers of Ireland to feel proud of who they are and to say we are not a group of failed persons. We have our own unique identity and we must not take on all negative aspects of what people think of us. We should be able to be proud and, for this to happen, our State needs to acknowledge our identity and ethnicity, and it is doing so today". March 2017, Bridgid Quilligan, former director of the Irish Traveler Movement(1)

There is hardly any depth of field in these settlement camps. Places for the detainment of the “travelers”, sometimes as detained in the here and now after centuries of relocation and journeys, of periodical and incessant displacements carrying a heartfelt but rootless identity.

Beings and things are merged on a first and unique plane: instantaneously everything is coupled together and that is its only instantaneousness; the rest is an extemporal sensation that eternalizes these figures that show up arrogantly in an instant of their lives, an instant that becomes a fringe, a frame.

In this scenario their eyes go directly towards others, to us, with no obstacle whatsoever and enhanced by that ‘real’ world that surrounds them and doesn’t really seem to condition or influence them; it does affect the particular persons in the portraits, of course; but not the extemporal being of the ethnicity they harbor inside (their real world, the one they have built themselves). 

Everything is temporary, everything is mounted, unfolded and gathered; everything is a decoration, an event, a celebration you prepare for that never seems like normal life, because for them “any day” does not exist as these photographs seem to tell us, characterized by the subtle neutrality of the colors, with no preference of hues or tones: they all have the same importance, without hierarchies (a ‘tendency’ shared by this ethnicity and the photographer: osmosis) Would we say yes to this invitation to adventure that gives the traveler so much more instability? Conditional freedom, conditioned life… and that ardent glow of authenticity.

1.- “The mincéirs are a native traditionally nomad ethnicity from Ireland, called Irish nomads by the Irish government and the established population. Mincéir is the true name of the itinerant Irish community in their own language, which is called Cant or Gammon. Although the Irish travelers speak English, the jargon they sometimes use among each other is Cant / Gammon. They were given the name of Traveler because of their nomadic identity. In the 5th century, these groups of individuals were called Whitesmiths because of their association and abilities as locksmiths.” J.-P. Bevillard. See also “Gyspy”..



Alexander Bronfer: “Mongolia”

A well-known photographer and a Mughal tribe crossed paths south of the Gobi Desert where everything is ‘nomad’: no one stops there; one can only move on to keep on living. Hilly plains and ice cold nights follow each other as far as the eye can see: with no landmarks or signs, with no more reference than the shadows of those who cross it under the light of the sun. The last nomad tribes of Mongolia pose proudly on their woolly camels while a van covers the flat line of the horizon until it stops in an immense empty space as if it has no will to continue, willing to be abandoned, and, as a modern monument pinned on a disproportionate pedestal, serve as origin or destiny, as landmark, as a point marked on a map without relief.

It is hard to tread, to move on the ground: we wish we could fly and surf the sky, fleet and fast. The Mughal nomads hold that desire in their hands: they practice falconry and adore those company birds of prey, watching their silhouettes in the open sky from the hard soil on which they happen to live (these birds are able to get a smile out of them, give them pleasure). No one suffers gravity like them and its devastating effects seem to peak through their withered faces, their millions of wrinkles, the rugged weathered skin of their faces and hands, in the skin exposed to the harshness and inclemency of time and space.

Lack of clemency too, lack of everything, void in this portion of the planet that humanity nonetheless isn´t willing to renounce to. Another place – which is a way of being – in which living freely, or at least in their manner, is no less hard than anywhere else but here the human tribe sees its silhouette cut directly on the infinite sky and seems gigantic, titans, heroes of an epic existence on the face of the earth destined to disappear just like, evanescent, their figures dissolve in infinite particles inside those photographs made with the frozen sand of the desert: it would seem we could blow and these timeless images would disintegrate.