Che Fotografo

The Beijing Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Caochangdi showed photos taken by Dr. Ernesto "Che" Guevara: 232 pictures by the Guerrilero Heroico, in black and white and color. This was again a very well set up and high quality exhibition by Three Shadows which runs until October 10th. The exhibition is a station of the "Che Photographer" exhibition which is hosted since 1990 in 16 cities across 13 countries.

When I was a boy, I read Che Guevara's "Motorcycle Diaries" and he was somehow a fascinating figure, as the prototype of the revolutionary and driving force in the Cuban revolution. Of course this blended in with my reading of Hemingway at that time, and a general sentiment which was positive to regions becoming independent from imperial rulers. Che Guevara travelled a lot and did not only contain his activities into South America, but also to Africa. He also visited China, with a "mandate of friendship". I tried to imagine how the meeting with Chairman Mao must have been. Che Guevara was of course far more idealistic, better educated and more traveled than Mao. For him Communism was a model for liberation, while for Mao it became way of suppression and terror against his own people. But also the Cuban regime took a way Che Guevara might not have anticipated. Perhaps this is why, instead of becoming a government minister, he headed off for the next revolution in a different country, which costed him lis life.

Before visiting this exhibition today, I was not aware that Che Guevara was a good photographer. I liked many his photos , not because of technical quality, but because they are like a freeze of what he saw and how he saw it. In a way, I found his photography very "journalistic" and "documentary". Also, because he seems to have been always with a camera, he caught many private moments, which shed a light hearted light on the Guerellia fighter. Perhaps this is what photography of this kind is about: less about the perfection of photos, but of the choices of what the photographer sees and the choice of the life he lives. Che Guevara took a very extreme choice and he left the world not just with the prototype of an idealistic young man, but also with hundreds of excellent photos.