Fernando Gallegos Melds Poetry, Photography, and Visual Grace on the Blockchain.
The Collector's Guide to Blockchain Photography
For those who have been in the NFT photo space for awhile, Fernando Gallegos is no stranger. The photographer, curator, and theorist has been a regular and oftentimes central figure in discourse surrounding photography on the blockchain, as he considers the nature of the medium and how NFT contexts affect understandings of images. As a prolific photographer, Gallegos has released several collections over the past year which find inspiration in poetry, seek new modes of NFT-driven narrative, and play delicate games of formal construction. We sat down to learn more about Gallegos’ extensive practice and his own history in the NFT space.
PhotoVerso: To start, can you talk a bit about your background as a photographer?
Fernando Gallegos: I probably started making photographs during grade school, it wasn’t so much about the photographs then as it was about the machines, I used to make photographs with polaroids, the GameBoy camera, whatever cellphone that was available and from now and then I used a Minolta x350 that was around my parents’ house. It was during high school that I became very interested in what photographs tell. I started making small narratives in video and still photographs and then went to study audio-visual languages in the university. I worked as a cinematographer for a while doing small commercials and some short films, it was then that I got really interested in photography as a language and started seeing and reading everything I could about photography as an art.
Eventually, I got a masters degree in visual arts and made my thesis on the language of photography as a narrative art. During the last 10 years, I’ve been making photographs and editing/designing photobooks for other artists. My main interest is in the understanding of the photographic image and the ways we use them to tell stories or just communicate.
PhotoVerso: What have been your biggest milestones so far in your career as an artist?
Fernando Gallegos: I’ve had several grants and been in a number of collective exhibitions internationally, but I consider a milestone every time my career has allowed me to build an interesting book or even understand a work enough to help others read it. I’m proud and grateful for my contribution on designing Alejandro Cartagena’s book “A Small Guide To Homeownership” that was nominated and exhibited in the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize on 2021. Also, the opportunity of working with a leading organization in the area of photography as NFTs such as Fellowship is something that is very important to me.
PhotoVerso: Can you talk about what brought you into the world of NFTs?
Fernando Gallegos: At the beginning of 2021 everyone was talking about NFTs, not precisely in a good way, but enough so that curious people such as I were interested in seeing what was happening there. Having collaborated for many years with Alejandro Cartagena, when he first published carpoolers as an NFT series it got me really interested in the use that NFTs could have for photography and artists, another thing that got me really interested was the fact that the idea of photographs as digital files signed as NFTs was making sense not just to artists but for collectors too.
During those first months of 2021 Alejandro and I used to talk everyday about what was happening and the possibilities of the NFTs space for a new revitalized market for photography and possibly a new place from where to draw inspiration for new work. I haven’t stopped since.
PhotoVerso: What’s the scoop on your latest drop?
Fernando Gallegos: The last series I published as NFTs is “The Infinite Corridor”, a very fragmented landscape of a northern Mexican city in which I invite the viewer for a walk in these uncomfortable streets. With this series, I was very interested in the way it feels to walk streets that are no longer made for the walker. Without signaling to one particular thing, the aim is to point to a kind of magnetic repulsion that I feel with the way the city is presented to me. I think these kinds of Latin American cities are in a way abandoned by any kind of authority and the way they are constructed responds to the particular use of any individual that claims that space, which makes them shapeless and difficult to understand as a whole and because of that, extremely difficult to navigate in many different ways. The effect this has on the creation of a local, regional and national identity is something that worries me and is explored in most of my projects.
PhotoVerso: What/who are some of the inspirations and influences that fuel your work?
Fernando Gallegos: Poetry in general has become a big inspiration for me over the last few years, the way words create images that together point to emotions so abstract that can hardly be described by words is something that I’ve been studying and applying on the way I edit other artists work and the way I think of my projects. Lately, I’ve been reading W.H. Auden, W.S. Merwin and some more jazz style writings by Jack Kerouac. I’ve been thinking a lot also about Michael Schmidt, John Gossage and Raymond Meeks lately.
PhotoVerso: What do you hope audiences take away from spending time with your work?
Fernando Gallegos: A sense of awkward uncomfortableness that reminds them of walking their cities, of trying to connect with strangers, and of the increasing difficulty of achieving a sense of belonging.
PhotoVerso: What are you working on now? And do you have new drops or projects on the horizon?
Fernando Gallegos: I’ve been making photographs at a slower rate, taking my time to start minting a slower narrative maybe by this year’s end. I’m trying to not think of drops as “collections”, instead of that I want to have a long steady conversation with whatever audience is interested over a longer period of time, I want to allow myself to have a 2-way conversation with an audience that’s almost happening in real-time so that I can communicate my present concerns about what surrounds me and at the same time be fed by the audience about our points of agreement and disagreement in a way that the narrative can evolve. Even if at the moment is all very abstract I’m very curious to see if an art project can be done in this flexible way in a medium that allows that publishing flexibility.
Besides that, I’ll keep working with Fellowship as part of the curatorial team and in the educational branch as we try to expand the conversation about photography as NFTs.
Fernando Gallegos b.1987, is a mexican artist and photobook editor/designer interested in photography as a narrative language. The books he's designed have been shortlisted in festivals such as the Aperture Foundation Photobook Award and Les Recontres d'Arles, and his work as an artist has been exhibited in group shows internationally. Since 2021 he's been working with different organizations in the understanding of web3 as a new platform for publishing photography as well as the possible language that could emerge from the understanding of photography as a digital object. He lives and works in Monterrey, México where he owns a small coffee shop and photobook store.