Txema Salvans: Perfect Day
Daniel Milroy Maher
Hardcover, 280 x 275 mm, 100 pages
‘This project aims to reveal the physical and emotional resilience of our species. In this resilience – paradoxically – lies the tragedy of being human. Where other species give up, ours is able to withstand a little more,’ writes Txema Salvans of his latest book Perfect Day. Published by MACK, this recent release is a study of humanity’s stubbornness in the face of industrialisation and the destruction of its natural habitats.
Featured throughout are individuals seeking rest and respite from the banal urbanity that surrounds them. In order to do so, they are forced to repurpose their settings and find relaxation in car parks, next to factories and on slabs of concrete. In these efforts to defy their manmade, claustrophobic and, at times, oppressive environments, we see both a beauty in their resistance, and a sadness in their attempt to overcome a bleak reality.
Shot in various locations around Spain, each page reveals a different manifestation of industry and modernity, from warehouses and silos to telephone lines and high-rise apartment blocks. These looming constructions are juxtaposed with holidaymakers sunbathing below them, forcing the reader to consider why, as a species, we continue weaken our attachment with the natural world. Once a nomadic species, wandering deserts, forests and jungles, we now accept as normality our concrete jungles. Though we continue to carry with us our urges for mother nature, we often deny ourselves its pleasures.
We again see this in the way that the ocean, which the viewer intuitively senses is nearby in almost all of these scenes, remains elusive. This detachment from the lifegiving water serves to further isolate the subjects of Salvan’s photographs. Though we’d like to think that we exist in harmony with our environment, these subjects seem at complete odds with theirs. Their insistence on sunbathing, even on the blistering heat of dusty tarmac, speaks less of an embracement of their situation, and more of a reluctant acceptance.
The publication is at once bleak and hopeful, and sad and comical. Salvan’s images bear witness to the insatiable hunger for growth that is our blessing and our curse, our greatest strength and our biggest weakness. More than just holidaymakers, the solitary figures that people these photographs are a testament to humanity’s ability to adapt to the consequences of its own decisions.
Daniel Milroy Maher is London-based freelance writer, editor and publisher. He has written extensively on subjects ranging from photography and film to art and design. He is also a co-founder and editor of SWIM Magazine, an annual art publication.