Camera House – Caleta Lo Rojas

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Caleta Lo Rojas, Coronel Community
BioBío, Chile
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The “Camera House” project was born as a proposal of approaching, rescuing and visualising Caleta Lo Rojas, a community of artisanal fishermen in the Coronel Commune, located at Bio Bio Region in Chile. Lo Rojas is one of the 75 small inlets of the coastal territory of the region. It is urban, about 10 minutes from the civic center of the commune. Although it is one of the most extensive artisanal fishing inlets in the region, the bad urban planning policies of previous governments have made it surrounded by the industrial fisheries that reside and alter local fishing, such as a thermoelectric central which modifies the nearby water temperature. This is the surrounding “landscape” of the small cove, which at the same time continues preserving ancient rituals and traditions that make it very unique.

Since March 2019, when the first contacts were made with the Coronel Artisanal Fishermen Cooperative, the project of documentary and heritage photographic rescue of the cove began to be designed. The “Camera House”, as mentioned before, was born as a resource to approach fishermen based on the intrigue, in order to generate trust to be able to enter the territory. Thus, in August of the same year, the team begins to work on the beach. Fishermen gather on Saturdays between 10 am and 4 pm in a nearby sector to sell the products they harvest from the sea, it is impossible to get fresher fishes and shellfishes than those. Although there are about 100 meters between the headquarters of the “Esfuerzo del Mar” Football Club and the place of the boats, it was very difficult for both the fishermen and the people who were going to buy to extend their route to the club headquarters to perform experimental pinhole photography practices. Thus, photographer Walter Blas came up with the idea of ​​turning the club’s headquarters, not only into the dark room for the development of the pinhole photos they take, but also into a large pinhole camera pointing directly at the sea. The objective was accomplished by generating interest among the residents who commented that at the club’s headquarters there was a “large camera” that was photographing the “Caleta” (small beach).

Since its inception a ritual has been generated. On Saturdays the “Camera House” opens at 11 am, removing a perimeter fence that surrounds the headquarters, washing the development trays, sweeping and adjusting the entrance of light by the pinhole that was made in one of the wooden windows. Then comes the second ritual, which is to fetch water from the large cans at the fish and seafood sales area, since the headquarters does not have basic water, electricity and the rest of services. This ritual of searching for water generates a new approaching with the residents, which consists in greeting them, commenting on what they are doing and inviting them to attend to take a portrait with the “Casa Cámara”. The third ritual of the day is taking the first photo of the day of the “Caleta”. Every Saturday a photo is taken in 20 x 24 cm format on negative paper from the “outside”.

Another interesting subject is the Camera focus system made with a computer table with wheels, a chair on it, and on the back of the chair a frosted glass that supports the photographic paper for the negative and as a screen to make it “focus” .
Today the “Camera House” project is in the process of improvement, since thanks to the interest of the House of Culture of the Municipality of Coronel, arrangements will be made at the club headquarters to generate not only a point of tourist and cultural interest, but also a small gallery of exhibition and artistic residence so that photographers can come to stay and lodge their proposals with the cove.

The “Camera House” can be visited on Saturdays between 11am and 4pm. You can follow their work in Instagram: @casa_camara_caletalorojas

Work team: Project Director: Walter Blas. Team coordinator: Stephanie Torres. Collaborators: Anacaren Burgos, Cristóbal Parra, Camila Lassalle, Karen Baher.

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Posted: 20 April, 2020

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Category: Cameras Obscuras

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