Pulchra comes into being not only from old camera cases, but also from their stories
The smell of leather and old things. Descriptions which seem to have come out of a book on travel and explorations. Shark skin. An elephant case. Marks on the leather that recall the origins of photography, such as Rolleiscoop or Voiglander. And then suddenly, written by hand, inside a case: Owen M, Michigan 1950.
It doesn’t take much to be plunged into a fascinating and romantic scenario. It doesn’t take much to be seduced by stories that have never been told, yet have been lived by the hundreds of cases for cameras and for lenses that we have ourselves touched, opened, sniffed and caressed.
The warm noise of the flap that closes, “tap”. The “click” of the stud fastening. The ring that with difficulty holds a worn shoulder strap full of life. The elastic loop that has held thousands of rolls of film on the bag’s long journeys.
For lovers of photography, it is a journey into the already known, but which is enriched by fragments which are not usually given much consideration. Not only the photographer and not only his favourite camera write the history of photography. The cases also have something to say: from the materials, at times exotic, to the technical solutions found to let the photographer comfortably reach the body of his camera, the lens, the exposimeter and the films. Ah yes, the films!
Even those who are less expert in photography are wrapped up and swept off to a magnificent world by this fascination. Romantically, Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep in the beautiful film “The Bridges of Madison County” come to mind. To others, the cult movie “Blow Up” by Antonioni, or the stunning Nicole Kidman in the role of a great photographer such as Diane Arbus. Or else, there are those who think of the pictures of artists, writers who on several occasions have been immortalized when they were travelling, carrying a case with a camera inside it over their shoulder, or who experimented new forms of expression in their studios with the black and white of films.
Or perhaps, much more likely, for each of us, it is that old case that was always in the top drawer of the chest of drawers in the bedroom in the house in the country which comes to mind.
A thousand possible stories that each of us can tell. And so it is easy to imagine how we felt and how much we dreamed when touching the cases.
The cases hold the imperceptible
A camera used by goodness knows which photographers and in who knows what parts of the world. We know nothing about them, yet their life is completely visible in the worn leather, in the creases of the shoulder strap, in the universe blue velvet linings, in the tab of the fastening opened and closed a thousand times to press down a button with a click and bring a vision, a dream, a piece of the world to a halt forever.
We read lots of stories about photographs or photographers but it is also having all these cases pass through our hands, case after case, that the sensation remains of having enjoyed a slice of life. Like a book, which contains a whole world, and which shows us on its outside, maybe in a crease on the cover, in a drop of coffee on the middle of a page, in a corner turned down by a reader, that the object itself, and not only the story it holds, has a life of its own. Camera cases are like that.
This life of theirs, these thousand possible lives, have entered the soul of Pulchra, inside every single detail. From one hand to another, from one woman to another, from one fragment of life to another, the new life of the old cases is just waiting to be written. Or rather no, to be lived!