The photographic series “Fighting Cocks” is a work in progress made in the last few years during frequent short visits to the Island. This site specific project depicts portraits of fighting cocks. You see a rooster who embodies personality and reveals a stage which references the world that surrounds it. Using my camera as an ambassador, I am able to explore the tradition of cock fighting, and socially integrate myself in this community.
As a child I first heard about that tradition listening to my father’s stories of his cock fighting adventures in Cuba. One of his tales was about his friend Julio (El Chino) Chane, a man who cared for his roosters more than his family. Years later, I discovered a short story with a similar plot “No One Writes to the Colonel,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I spent time watching the fights before I started photographing them so to develop an understanding of the viewer’s perspective as well. I believe this patience made a great difference in creating the beginning of this project both in relation to the environment and in my own appreciation to the subject. My presence with the camera has not been unwelcome; on the contrary, I feel accepted by all. The rich visual quality of the photographs occurs through the technical innovation of a bracket with multiple flash heads which affect the visual struggle through what is an extremely confined space. This project can be considered as having a documentary style referencing the history of photography. I reference the Teutonic affection for sorting and cataloging depicted by the portraits of August Saunders, and the photo reproductions of crime scene images taken in New York and Paris in the 19th century. The portraits of the fighting cocks evoke the hidden horror of the spectacle, which is mentally produced by the individual viewer.
My goal with this project is to produce images that respect the cultural tradition of cock fighting in San Andrés, Colombia. At the same time, I am uncovering through a visual understanding the meaning of this sub-culture which is a big part of my Hispanic background.