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Another Paris - Paris, 2016/17

A student of photography becomes forever a student of life. Capturing moments in time, photographers engage with the world through heartful images. Social issues and strife have always been central topics in visual storytelling; individuals become symbols that portray the essence of the human condition; the key life events and emotions humans experience and can relate to.

Jesus Ruiz Diaz Vallena, a student from Paraguay, chose to walk the sombre streets of Paris. His curiosity and empathy led him to photograph life on the margins of society. To captivate an audience and communicate their ideas, photographers, as the talented Ruiz Diaz, use the language of light, composition and perspective in their stories.

Engaging the viewer to see and feel the pain of others is a noble cause to uphold, added the weight of responsibility that comes with photographing humans at their most vulnerable. The challenge in telling the stories of the homeless lays in the ethical questions it raises. Digging deep into the human condition to reveal some truth makes the homeless an easy yet complex target. The homeless are omnipresent and always in the public eye; here they become symbols for a particular condition.

Jesús photographs the homeless he met in Paris during their quiet moments, the things we all do each day, such as cooking, feeding our pets, reading and sleeping. Showing their humanity through portraits and still life, Ruiz Diaz bares witness to their existence, their resilience and the stigma surrounding the solitary life on the streets.

There are no official statistics but an early 2018 report in the French weekly magazine Paris Match put numbers at approximately 40 000 homeless in Paris. As of 2018 French authorities will use data collection tools to make a photograpic sketch of the situation to better understand the reality of those individuals sleeping on doorsteps and under bridges all through the capital.

The only way to make the invisible visible is through collecting, researching and exhibitions of documents such as the images shown here in Another Paris. This is the true value of photography; taking the audience someplace they have never been, making visible what we don’t see. Whether it is across the Atlantic Ocean, across the street or next-door, photographers become witness and voice to the voiceless.

Text by the editor, curator, producer and consultant Maral Deghati for the exhibition of Ruiz Diaz´s ongoing project “Another Paris” in the Alliance Française of Asunción during July 2018.

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