Even though Caracas is not named in the publication, the city is the topic of Sistema nervioso: the city as a space of transition and transformation, a liminal space where contradictions and ambiguities come together or move apart. Barbara Brändli constructs a visual discourse about the city covered by the fantasy of the everyday, looks out for expressions of popular culture which signify and define it through images featuring phrases, figures, drawings, advertising slogans and traffic signs, objects of devotion or decoration, mannequins or buildings and architectural styles. In Sistema nervioso, all these subjects of representation together build a visual biography of Caracas in the 1970s, tangled up in crossings of urban, suburban, rural and even colonial cultures. One of the strong points of this book is how it links the photographic image with the graphic sign, be it pictographic, calligraphic, typographic or, even, orthographic. Brought together in this way, image and sign constitute functional units which build a kind of calligram or visual poem of the city, made up of words and photographs which sketch aspects of the popular imaginary of the citys inhabitants.
In addition, the writing on the walls inscribes histories, occupations, desires or paradoxes through which we can see both the social conditions of the person who wrote it and the cultural and domestic memories of a city made up of fragments and identities in transit. The text by Román Chalbaud in which the word Caracas never appears, only »the valley« is dedicated to interpreting the environment of the common man, of a boy and his aunts who cross different areas of the same space; for example, the housing development El Conde or the streets of La Guaira. At the same time, the text narrates the authors surprise before »the unusual everyday« offered to him by Brändlis eye, extols the »popular voice« and the anonymous phrases written on the walls »of a country which is being assembled« and which in the book is structured by a graphic designed based on themes. John Lange groups series of angels, of images of devotion, of mannequins, of traffic signs and signals, and to separate them he uses colored papers (including black), which are sometimes also used for printing the photographs on. This variety of colors energizes the reading and multiplies the creators graphic possibilities. Sistema nervioso brings together three authorial visions of the same subject with the support of the Fundación Neumann, which published the photobook.
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