Among the children of the clouds. In the autumn of 2006, Manel Esclusa, sculptor of light and teacher of photographers, accepted the challenge of accompanying the Sahara to a commission of the Ulls del món Foundation that was preparing to perform a new ophthalmological intervention in the territory. He had been asked to document the reality of the Saharawi refugee camps under the protection of the United Nations in the Algerian desert. The proposal of the Foundation could not be more motivating for the photographer: to raise testimony of the dramatic interrelation of poverty and ocular pathologies, a vicious circle. With the goal set … at the eyes of the Sahara.
The trip to those shadows bathed in the blinding light of the desert, generated an extraordinary photographic document –Obrint els ulls al món. 5 anys de lluita contra la ceguesa evitalbe al Sahara – which was successfully exhibited at La Pedrera of Barcelona and afterwards at the Museum of Art and History of Reus. In contact with the good people of that forgotten Sahara of the world Manel Esclusa knew by themselves that they liked to call themselves “children of the clouds”. He did not have to make an effort to understand why: the relative monotony of the landscape – which, however, is far from static because the immense dunes move with the wind and change the continuous horizon line – is compensated by the superb spectacle of the skies of the Algerian Hamada, at all hours observable.
The strenuous activity that the photographer carried out visiting the different wilayas – adobe and canvas cities – in which he accompanied the surgeons, prays to the volunteers responsible for the logistics, and to the health personnel supporting the commission, registering in impressive and endearing images the helplessness, the pain, and also the joy of the cures and the hope of those people put in the work of the doctors, did not prevent that in the rest, the displacements and the waiting compasses, Manel Esclusa relaxes the eyes in the great representation offered by the clouds, and shoot at the sky. That personal work has remained unpublished to the date.
Now the photographer gives nine of those non-commissioned photographs to the Foundation’s VISIONS art collection, paying homage to the ‘children of the clouds’ that opened their eyes to the reality of a community as exhausted as heroic, determined to survive after more than forty years of submission to the most extreme conditions. A people so reduced to silence, so unknown and distant, as close in history.
Sala Parès opens its doors to this unique work and is pleased to accompany it with a brief but significant sample: Sculptural pieces and graphic work with which renowned artists support the Ulls del món Foundation, showing their support for the fight against blindness avoidable and by the Universal Right to Vision.