THE EXPERIENCE OF CONTEMPORARY “FLÂNEUR”
Text by: Lieska Husband
The term flâneur originated in France between the 16th-1 century. Originally it was a pejorative way to describe an individual who wandered the streets, aimlessly, open to the incidents that appeared in his path. This character, however, vindicates itself in French literature of the 19th century, when it acquires recognizable attributes of the poet-artist in Haussmann's modern metropolis. Honoré de Balzac even goes as far to describe “flânerie” as "gastronomy for the eyes."
This experience of exploring, describing and presenting a reality of the urban environment, nourishes Elizabeth Cemborain's work. Her condition of interpreter of everyday life appears early on in her first photographic series at the beginning of the 21st century. “Guardianes del Norte”, “Encierro en Verano”, “El Paso de la Virgen” and “Lazo Amarillo”, amongst others, are important references to the “flânerie” character in the artist's work. It’s a story told from common equipment; a kind of “Guide of the common” that documents chairs, windows, curtains, flowers and paper bows, with an imprinted look full of self-confidence and freshness. Later images of the city interpret the movement and the fleeting nature of the moment.
In series like “Pluvial Sideral” Cemborain documents a city in motion. The camera captures the second in which drops of water slide across the front or rear glass of the nearby car, in the oppressive Caracas traffic. Caracas interpreted from various perspectives, the sound of the metropolis with its streets crowded with cars, the atmospheric component sometimes mirrored in a raindrop, the reflections and rays of multicolored lights; all coming from advertising, everything within a profile where verticality becomes habitual, the elements surrender to the artist's camera, who without any pretense narrates in an open and honest way, sensations that are common to the urban individual.
It is a spontaneous work, open to the scrutiny of the spectator's eye, where a fraction of a second makes the difference between one shot and another; where the camera pans, as well as the zooming to a certain point of the frame, contains an unsuspected polychrome quality and richness.