Los tercios , by Jordi Bru and Àlex Claramunt Soto (recently edited by Desperta Ferro), is an unusual book that will awaken the enthusiasm of some and the incomprehension of others. How to explain? The basis of The Thirds is the photographs that Bru has taken in recent years in the staging of historical battles taking place in Europe. Does anyone hear the theme? Thousands of fans, gathered in sets, rigorously dress up as historical soldiers and perform fighting. Bru is one of them. Only, instead of carrying a carabiner, he has a camera.
«I was dedicated to photojournalism for many years. I worked in EL MUNDO in Catalonia and the Basque Country and then I switched to advertising photography. This work is a synthesis of those two trades », Bru explains. «In representations, I move like a photographer moves in a demonstration or in riots. It requires a lot of concentration, an instinct to anticipate the action ... I always go with an angle, very close to the action. There are photographers who stay on the fence that marks the battle, take out a telephoto lens and take their photos. I get dressed and get into the scrubbing ».
And what about advertising photography? That has to do with the second part of Bru's method, which is not limited to portraying the action. When he returns to his studio in Pamplona, he breaks the material down into thousands of figures that he isolates, edits and later assembles into compositions that are hyper-realistic and, at the same time, seem dreamed of .
The comparison is not so much war photography (Bru himself was in Bosnia in the 90s), but the art that can be found in the Prado Museum or the Rijksmuseum. A painting in which you find inspiration? «The battle of Mühlberg, by Titian, in El Prado. The challenge is that of the painter who faces a blank canvas. The challenge is to create a composition, to build a scene that works. What I want to do is not a collage, it is something else ».
Bru's compositions are accompanied by texts by Àlex Claramunt Soto, editor of Desperta Ferro and historian, who function as a gloss of texts: what weapons appear in the images, what fabrics do they wear, what kind of life did the soldiers lead, what happened in the battle they reproduce ... The thirds, as its name suggests, is centered on the wars of the Spanish Empire in Europe, the most photogenic in military history.
It only remains to talk about the faces that appear in Bru's images. Who are those people who become 1600 soldiers a few times a year? “The historical recreator enjoys his hobby just as the skier enjoys skiing. People like to enjoy, take care of the details, to investigate to find out if they have linen or wool cloth, one type of weapon or another ... Then, there are recreators for whom it is important to put all that into practice and they sleep in haystacks and they are cold and there are others for which that is not so important. As models they are impressive. Almost all the photographs are snapshots, there are very few perched. They act very naturally, they don't fuss, "Bru explains. He himself is an actor as well as a photographer. «I have ever dressed like requeté and sometimes, a republican. It's okay. I have family on both sides ».
Image from the book 'Los tercios', by Jordi Bru.
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