JTF (just the facts): Published in 2022 by Dalpine (here) and Torch Press (here). Cardboard slipcase (20×23 cm) with red ribbon, housing two paperback books (red/blue topstitched spine), 208 pages, with 1655 color images. There are no texts or essays included, apart from a small insert. The colophon is printed on the ribbon. Design by the artist and Tipode Office. (Cover and distribute the plans below.)
Comments/Background: The task seems so simple: tell a story using photography. Of course, if it is a story that unfolds in an instant, it can be captured in a single frame, or perhaps in a selection of images taken at the same instant from different points of view . But if time passes to a significant degree and things change, it becomes increasingly difficult for a photograph to convey all that might be happening, and therefore multiple images, in sequence, series, or even in a cinematic stream. complete, become structural options that a photographer can use to construct a more complex narrative.
The Ricardo Cases Photobook EARLY is the visual history of a repeated journey. At the base are the daily trips between Cases’ home and her daughter’s school, a journey of about 15 km in each direction. But beyond the routine of drop-offs and pick-ups is the space in between, where Cases walks back and forth along the road, seeing (and photographing) the rhythms of everyday life. EARLY collapses six months of daily travel (from early 2019) into a sort of integrated visual diary, interweaving interactions with his daughter and his passing observations of the local world near his home in Valencia, Spain, into one continuous, almost flow de-experience of consciousness. In EARLYwe never really know if we’re coming or going, where we are, and what (or who) we might see along the way, and so the usual constraints of time and space become pleasantly confusing.
The layout of EARLY is relatively unusual, in that it divides each page into a grid of 12 possible spaces where a photograph could go. If all slots are filled with individual images, the page contains 12 images; if multiple slots are filled with larger images (from two wider or taller images to twelve full-page images), the page can contain between 1 and 11 images. This strict grid structure is surprisingly flexible, and Cases typically uses it in a chronological progression, moving from the upper left corner to the lower right corner in a sequence, which involves the timeline of small anecdotes, incidents and encounters, sometimes making the bridge over an entire series (or page turn) to tell a slightly longer story, almost like a comic book or storyboard. The pages are then collected into two sewn softcover books, which are housed in a sturdy cardboard sleeve, with graphic design elements on the front and back that echo the dominant grid format. In a sense, Cases has designed practical work to circumvent some of the limitations of photographic narrative construction, giving himself a controlled presentation space in which he can jump between momentary single-frame distractions and more closely multi-frame scenes. observed with relative ease, without losing the thread of coherence.
Given that the central journey of this photobook is by car, along roads and highways, it’s not at all surprising that transportation motifs are seemingly everywhere, often interspersed with more sustained encounters. Cases fleetingly notice other cars, buses, and trucks (including rarer sightings like car carriers and trailers full of chickens), graphics of road signs as they pass overhead or through the side window, people pumping gas, parking or having the car washed, road workers repairing the pavement and cutting weeds along the road, and trains seen passing in a blur on the nearby tracks. These images reinforce the impression of constant travel, back and forth movement, and Cases’ attention captured momentarily as he walks past. His head seems to spin (again and again) to catch a glimpse of a grossly enlarged roadside advertisement, or a construction site with its cinder blocks and cement mixers, or various gates and fences that block visual access to everything in sight. lies behind, these repeated repetitions. sightings pile up in a sunny torrent of intrusive modernity, with a Burger King never far from sight.
But Cases doesn’t seem to have been content with simply making this daily commute, and so he seems to have deliberately slowed down to take a closer look at the world he was traveling through, often stopping for a brief visit or an inadvertent photographic adventure. along the way. Since at least some of the land it passed through is used for agriculture, many of these short interludes are farm-themed. He visits orange groves, follows pickers through trees and pays attention to geometric piles of plastic crates. He is interested in the graphic shapes of tractor wheels and sees tractors of different shapes and sizes. He follows a man plowing on horseback, passes a sheep farm, and sees heaps of onions drying in the sun. And when he looks up, jet trails have crisscrossed in a thicket of lines in the blue sky above. Most of these observations take the form of a short series of photographs, where Cases follows his eye as it bounces around the subject, seeing it again and again from different angles or momentary points in time.
People form another group of subjects on this daily journey, most moving in and out of view for a single image. Most walk, run, or ride their bikes, with most not paying much heed to Cases and his attentions. Others sit in cars, drive tractors or wait in gas stations and shopping areas, talking on the phone, having a quick drink or offering directions. Many of these encounters seem to take the length of a short conversation, with Cases snapping half a dozen images as he explains what he’s up to or has pointless small talk; most of those walking around (many with long walking sticks) seem happy to stop for a quick chat between neighbors and have their picture taken.
Out of his car and now on foot, Cases notices many objects and finds arrangements that could be called still lifes. He notices rubbish and hubcaps on the side of the road, old doors and other rubbish available for sale, hand-painted sale signs, murals and graffiti, and an array of flowers. close together that add splashes of color to the flow. Add some stray dogs, a dead snake, winding plastic pipes, a set of keys attached to a fence, a black dog hiding under a cactus, and some birds perched on some pipes, and the image stream becomes more and more detailed , the daily discoveries seeming to surge from the surroundings with an attention-grabbing punch.
While all of this is going on, Cases’ eye is periodically drawn to his passenger and companion for this journey twice a day. She’s mostly seen sitting in her car seat, in piles of fast-paced footage that captures her changing expressions and moods. And if, like any young child, she is bored in the car, yawns, falls asleep and wakes up groggy and grumpy, in general, she is a charmer, whose wavy hair generally surrounds a curious and happy face. When she gets to school, she gets out of the car, grabs her backpack (or her doll) and rushes to the sidewalk, ravaged by the bright sun casting silhouetted shadows on the nearby wall. These repositories are always visually appealing, and Cases makes the most of them, without intruding too much. She’s remarkably tolerant of her father’s camera, and as a result, he actually captures many quiet, lovely moments that feel authentically intimate.
These images of his daughter break the flow of the book, creating an interior and then exterior rhythm that leaves one guessing. The intrusion of family photos also forces Cases to mix life as a father and life as a photographer, creating an intriguing undercurrent of tension given that the two are intrinsically linked in this project – there is only a single flow of time, and Cases must balance both sides of his life to do it all at once, his eye constantly going back and forth between the two worlds.
What stands out in this photobook is how Cases tried to innovate with layout and sequencing to tell this layered, time-twisted story. His photographic eye is clearly ravenous, even on a boring morning run to school, clinging to passing things with a hint of frenzy. Between the bright sun and an extra flash, his world seems to be lit up, pushing even the most mundane moments into a kind of amplified attention, which he then arranged into a continuous stream of images that folds in on itself with deliberate repetitions and inversions. The result is an energetic photobook filled with the wonder of the everyday, from the fleeting joy of a beloved child to the neglected eccentricities of a well-trodden road.
Collector’s point of view: Ricardo Cases is represented by Angeles Baños in Badajoz (here) and EspaceJB in Geneva (here), among others. His work has little secondary market history at this point, so gallery retail probably remains the best option for interested collectors to follow.