The Club

by Pedro Letria MFA 12 Photography

The following text originally appeared in Formative & Persisting: How The Thesis Lives On.

The Club is a collection of photographs and texts that purports to show the Portuguese social clubs in Providence, as well as reflects on my understanding and relationship to photography.

In producing and assembling The Club, I juggled three concurrent narratives: a collection of photographs on related subjects, a running text and stand alone textual reactions to the what the images show. It made sense to weave them together—to relate the pictures to things that I lived and felt, that remain outside the frame of the photographs. The running text establishes a timeline —an evening and the next day—but the photographs clearly make reference to other moments, and the small texts that accompany them further expand their place in time. Even though each part is autonomous, they all spring from the same experiential journey. The challenge was therefore to sustain their difference without sacrificing the unity of the enterprise. In this effort, I was aided by graphic design’s innate ability to make visible the intangible and mediate the cumulative effect of image sequencing and the matters raised by the use of words.

I love the result of the thesis book, but as I later saw the book being leafed and read, I realized that the writing was being overlooked—people’s eyes would increasingly run from the words, glide across the satin surface of the page and linger on the images and the object’s blatant seductiveness. When I had the opportunity to publish the work with Pierre von Kleist, I took this as another chance to re-think the layout and the book object as a mouthpiece for the voices within. Each voice promotes a different relation to the occurrences they describe and demand equal attention, and are no less important in establishing the whole.

Multiple choices support the changes to the size, layout and typeface of the published monograph. A soft cover also seemed appropriate, and the choice of its texture and silkscreened color also aim at making the book feel good in one’s hands, something you can hold with one hand and do not want to put down, quite unlike the standard coffee table photo book. Lastly, the cover’s allusion to faux '70s wood laminate and aluminum lettering both aim at suggesting a door or portal—the cover as a portal or point of entry into another place and time, quite far from the picture’s constrained there and then.

A closer look at The thesis experience at RISD

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