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Germán Merino is a photographer who has had exhibits in one restaurant, two bars, and over eighty trees. As a new photographer looking for business, Merino has developed EXPOntánea, a self-run exhibition where he displays his photos on trees around Madrid, Spain.
“I began taking photos without any artistic interest, like any amateur that likes photography. It was after showing them to friends, they asked me, ‘Why don’t you do an exposition? Or study photography? Or do something related to photography?’” he said.
Last year, he held three expositions in Murcia, Spain, where he is from. The first was in a restaurant called El Girasol, and after, he displayed his work in two bars, Mazinger and Atomic. Six months ago he moved to Madrid, and although he has opportunities to do expositions here, he does not have the money to finance a display. For this reason, he started EXPOntánea in March. He got the idea from seeing advertisements in the street, promoting classes or other services, which have telephone numbers that you can tear off.
He took this idea and transformed it, so he could show off his photography, make new connections, and hopefully find some jobs. He hopes through this traveling showcase he will be able to make enough connections, so that next year, he can work full time on his photography. Right now, in order to support the expensive lifestyle of Madrid, he is working at a restaurant.
The name EXPOntánea is a play on words, combining the Spanish words exposición (exposition) with espontánea (spontaneous). He stated, “It’s called EXPOntánea because I don’t even know when the pictures are going to be put up. It depends a little on the weather. When it’s raining I can’t put them up. But I don’t think it’s going to rain tomorrow, so tonight, I won’t sleep much because I put them up really early.”
To save money, Merino buys secondhand wooden frames from the local flea market, the Rastro, and paints them white. He then places his photo in the frame and puts a printed fabric on the back. Underneath the photo, he puts a piece of paper, giving information about the exhibition and contact information. Attached to this are business cards that people can tear off and take with them. Each one of the business cards has a self portrait, along with his Facebook, Twitter, and email.
His first EXPOntánea was displayed in the terrace of Bar La Oliva. Since then, he has had eight EXPOntánea exhibits around Madrid. Each expo only lasts a day. He puts the photographs up in the early hours of the morning, when most people are still sleeping, and takes them down before going to bed.
Merino said when choosing where to put up the next display, he has two basic rules: to make sure that lots of people will pass through the area and that there are trees. However, the spring weather in Madrid has not made it very easy to display his pictures. Merino said, “In the last month, it has rained almost every day. I’m waiting for summer to come to be able to put them up every day. And for the people to see it one, two, three times. The bigger the impact, the better.”
Merino says that these displays are not the only thing about his work that is spontaneous. The nature of his photographs is quite spur-of-the-moment. In general, he just takes pictures of what he sees, when he sees them. “I find it hard to take a photo that I thought of previously. I like [to take] original photos that no one has seen before,” Merino maintained.
His favorite photo is of a lot of plastic chairs under a blue sky with puffy, white clouds. He says it is his favorite because everyone sees something different when they look at it. To some, the plastic chairs look like waves, to others they look like clouds or airplane tails. Ironically, this is the only photo that has been stolen from EXPOntánea.
The other photos in his exhibit range from abstract to portraits, but each one is extremely unique. In one photo, you see layers of different colored fabrics, which he took during a trip to Turkey. Another photograph is of several white T-shirts hanging on a clothes line and the wall behind the clothesline is a bright yellow, providing a significant contrast. Many of his photos’ subjects are everyday things, but Merino shows the world a different way to look at them.
Last month, a woman from the Plataforma Cultural La Pandemonio saw his work in the Plaza Santa Barbara and invited him to be part of the temporary gallery that will be held in the Campo de la Cebada. The theme Pandemonio has chosen is “Vive la Crisis”. Although not all Merino’s photographs fit the theme, his EXPOntánea idea was certainly thought of because of the economic crisis. Merino’s work, along with other young artists, will be displayed between May 23 and June 3.
Image Courtesy of Germán Merino Fotografía