Hands outstretched, connecting himself to his subject, late photographer Gerardo Nigenda would bring his camera into focus, his fingers often making their way into the camera’s line of sight to appear in shot.
Born in Mexico City in 1967, Nigenda lost his sight at the age of 25, becoming a caretaker in his local library managing their braille books. Then going on to teach maths, computer science and braille at Desarrollo Integral de la Familia in Oaxaca where he spent most of his life, it wasn’t until he was 32 that he began his foray into photography. Using a Yashika pocket camera gifted to him by famed documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark, he began capturing his sensory, sensual images.
His greyscale photographs overlaid with braille now sit alongside a carefully curated selection of work by fellow image-makers, entitled The Blind Photographer; his shots standing out for their arresting view of the female form. A poetic introduction to the work featured in the book describes “A subtle and sensuous poem in which the erotics of touch and presence, of anticipation and arousal, of sensual tactility, are discovered in a photography of touching tenderness.”
With work from photographers spanning Mexico, India, China and the UK, the collection – and indeed each photographer appearing within – challenges expectation and assumption of how it is possible to perceive the world. In Sight of Emotion, a short film detailing the lives of Nigenda and other blind photographers in his native Mexico, the role that these photographers play is defined. “The involvement of the blind in photography is very important because it serves as a sort of antidote against blindness – not of the blind, but of those who can see!” By showcasing a broad spectrum of light, perspective, and artistic intent, the photographs embody the task undertaken by the photographer when shooting their work. “It’s important to note that the book is not ‘about’ the blind, but it will provoke the sighted to imagine more fully the human condition of those who are visually impaired.”