When, during the course of your life, do you cross the threshold from childhood to adulthood, from maturity to senescence? Are there quantifiable moments, epiphanies, doors through which you enter into another dimension, another state of being? Is it merely a gradual chronological process or does something happen, a sudden intuitive realisation that you are no longer the person you once were?
Quoting Heraclitus, Plato reminds us that “you cannot step twice into the same river,” the passing water a metaphor for the implacable effect of the passage of time on all living beings. The people photographed in Passages over the course of forty years are no longer as they once were, indeed none of us is. The photographs preserve a moment that is gone.
The children have all grown and some of the others are no longer with us. They are portraits of people I have known or whom I have crossed in my travels. In some cases, accidentally captured, in others they are a documentary record of friends and neighbours, people of whom I retain fond and meaningful memories, such as the Berber fishermen in the Moroccan desert or my neighbours in a little Peruvian village.
For several years in the 1970s I had the pleasure of living in the old mill of Urpihuaylla, near the little village of Taray, on the banks of the Vilcanota River, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Every October villagers from the surrounding mountain hamlets descended upon the village to celebrate the feast of the Virgen del Rosario, participating in the Dance of the Devils, a New World version of the Spanish mediaeval fiesta of Moors and Christians, representing a mock battle in which the indians, togged up in masks and 17th Century costumes, conquer the whites and mestizos, true doppelgängers of their ancient foes.