Summer afternoon and the fan levitates at the back of the room. The photographs are crowded on the table, on the shelves the encyclopedias nod off in the nap sleepiness when they guess another phrase in the The wheel of luck. Julio and Candelaria have their legs stretched out on the armchairs, so that the circulation goes better, and their grandson, without them noticing, takes a photo of them from behind, retaining with an image the time that will remain between them. This is Joel Peláez Amador, and he brings the shopping bag after responding to the message left on his mobile, When are you coming to eat?, the title of the photobook that is a tribute and memory of two people who are his home.
Julio Ramón Peláez Núñez and Candelaria Pérez Cabrera were born at diametrically opposite points. Her husband was born in Oviedo in 1932 and, when his family moved to Cádiz, the outbreak of the Civil War coincided, imprisoning his father who had been a secretary in a Republican town hall, which is why they had to run away. Fate took him to Tenerife, and it so happened that there he fell in love with her future wife before boarding an oil tanker from where he would send her letters to woo her. She, who had been born in Los Baldíos de San Cristóbal de La Laguna in 1934, was the daughter of the cane grower who was in charge of the good condition of the pipes in the area and worked in the house of the wealthy gentlemen without ever forgetting the difference between one class and another. Together, they had three children, and Joel is one of her grandchildren.
precariousness and stability
This paragraph is a few brief lines regarding the hours that the young 26-year-old from Tenerife, known on networks as neoguanche, has listened to them, assimilating that living history had to solidify. After having studied Design at the University of La Laguna, he began to concatenate precarious jobs in which the delivery dates and the suffocation of speed diminished his creative capacity until he breathed a breath when studying a master’s degree in History Of art. One of the subjects proposed the composition of a book and he knew it was time. “My grandfather starts talking, like all grandparents, and he doesn’t stop. He has a very good memory and it was normal for me to listen to him, so I wanted to collect those stories and reflect them in some way”comment.
Despite the tenderness that it exudes, it compares the memories with the reality of the expectations shattered by a global health crisis, the intrinsic precariousness of the decade, and the questioning of a system that does not meet current needs. A dialogue that she shares with them. “I reflect a little the contrast between the two generations. Their day to day transfers to me at a completely different time; for example, they have lived in the same house for 60 years with elements that have meaning, from how the walls are painted to how the armchair gives an anecdote of the way it arrived and how it was upholstered, while we leave one floor a year, we look for a way to survive and you don’t have a record of yourself in the places you travel”.
A photo book full of memories
The pages show the daily life of the interior life of the family: the doorway, the mailbox, the grandfather cutting potatoes, the fruit in the bowls, the virgins who watch over the health of those close to them, the memories of the trips, the VHS, the medicines, the bed, a calendar and the matches next to the unlit cigars, some yellowish photographs, letters and family book, and them, arm in arm. «The family contexts of each one are very particular, so I feel very privileged. In general, you have to pay attention to how things count so much to better understand everything that surrounds you and know how you position yourself with respect to it.
The designer built the narrative thread from themselves to them, a backwards journey of an umbilical cord full of care, where he meaningfully places the images and also the voice notes that can be accessed through a code QR in which the song of Angelita by Antonio Molina is interspersed with reflections on day-to-day subsistence. The older ones have their own credits at the end of the photobook: Julio goes to the shop to buy bread and Candelaria prepares the food among the pans.
Joel Peláez does not know what the future of this photobook will be. If someone wants it physically, send them a private message on Instagram, and if not, give the PDF file for free. “There is an intention to lose money,” he laughs. Meanwhile, he participates in self-publishing fairs such as Pliegue advances other collaborative projects such as Lost objects with the group of authors and publishers PAPELE,A (Precarious Associates Thinking About Profitable Publishing, Help) and weaves new relationships, as in the meeting space Photobook Club Canarias. “Much of who I am is thanks to them. My grandfather tells me and my brother that we are the children that he could not raise after having worked a lifetime in which he could not enjoy his own.Asking for a snapshot, it comes to mind where they hug him in the middle of the hallway. They always will.