viernes, 26 de mayo de 2017

XV Córdoba International Biennal of Photography: Musings on a Historical Success


The XV Córdoba International Biennal of Photography which has just finished has probably been the most important photographic event held in the world in 2017, and all records of attendance have been beaten since this cultural event, made up by a number of top-notch exhibitions, lectures, roundtable debates and workshops began its path in 1985.

There has been a total of 41,000 visitors (though the real figure was around 65,000 if you include the many thousand more people who watched the excellent exhibition Frontiers by Rafael Alcaide, whose black and white images were displayed at the Gran Capitán Avenue).

Something truly unusual and exceedingly praiseworthy, because Córdoba is a relatively small city with 325,000 inhabitants, unlike the large megalopolises of Europe, United States, Japan and China who are often venue of photographic milestones of this significance, as well as featuring populations of millions of inhabitants and many more resources of all kind.

Anyway, nothing else could be expected, since the Córdoba Town Council committment to photography has been unflinching for many years , so contents offered in this XV Córdoba International Biennal of Photography have been certainly impressive, standing out:

- The Mexican Suitcase Exhibition, organized by the International Center of Photography of New York and the the worldwide most important photographic exhibition in XXI Century hitherto, made up by 4,500  black and white original negatives of pictures made by Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour " Chim " during the Spanish Civil War, of which the XV Córdoba International Biennal of Photography has offered a painstakingly chosen assortment of images whose jewel of the crown has been the two giant 3 x 2 meter mural size contact sheets of photographs made by Gerda Taro in La Granjuela in 1937, made by the ICP of New York in collaboration with Picto Laboratory in Paris.

- The exhibitionNicaragua" by Magnum Photographer Susan Meiselas, one of the most important photojournalistic reportages in the history of photography, which meant a turning point and the spreading of colour from early eighties as a prevailing photographuic means in the foremost illustrated publications, greatly building up the tenets established by Ernst Haas, William Egglestone, Joel Meyerowiz, Larry Burrows, Harry Gruyaert, Alex Webb and others, in addition to be one of the most glorious moments of the mythical 24 x 36 mm Kodachrome 64 colour film (albeit its ADN is really elite black and white), the best chemical photographic emulsion ever made, whose superb inimitable features and unique aesthetics of image could be appreciated on the spot by many thousand people who attended this exhibition at the Rafael Botí Art Center in Córdoba.

- The exhibitionImages of the World and Eptaphs of War ", with Michael Zapke´s collection of war pictures, one of the most important ones in the world.

- The exhibition "Graphic History of the Civil War in Córdoba", with a very comprehensive array of war photographs made in the Andalusian province during the Spanish Civil War and belonging to Manuel Fernández Delgado´s collection, the most relevant in the world in this scope.

This exhibition was another of the sensations of this unforgettable XV Córdoba International Biennal of Photography, with an exquisite presentation of the pictures in remarkable size, most of them made from original negatives or large format glass plates, delivering an amazing image quality which enraptured the audience gathering at the Principal Comic Theatre of Córdoba, venue of this extraordinary exhibition, which likewise showed for the first time as a world premiere a picture of the Spanish Civil War enlarged to 5 x 2.5 meters (made form the original 13 x 18 cm large format plate) covering the scenery of the aformentioned theatre and which in spite of the enormous augmenting factor, kept very well the image sharpness thanks to the exceedingly big surface of the original LF original glass plate and the acutance generated by the Agfa Rodinal developer used more than 80 years ago.

- The presence of nothing more than four world-class war photojournalists: Gervasio Sánchez, Emilio Morenatti, Samuel Aranda and Manu Bravo.

The lecture " Sarajevo 25 Years Later " by Gervasio Sánchez at the Vimcorsa Assembly Hall on April 3, 2017, moderated by Francisco González was memorable and had a massive attendance of public.
On its turn, the roundtable Photographers in War, held at the Vimcorsa Assembly Hall, moderated by Pablo Juliá and featuring Emilio Morenatti, Samuel Aranda and manu Bravo, was likewise full of attendees, being pretty interesting and intense, with the three photojournalists elaborating on the quandaries and risks currently inherent to the war photographer occupation, along with the working ethics and the economical constext related to the obtained images.

- The exhibition " Wa Habibi " by Carole Alfarah, with touching pictures on the War in Syria, turned on its own merits into one of the yardsticks of this XV Córdoba International Biennal of Photography 2017, and The Arab House in Córdoba, location where it took place, was visited by a lot of thousand attendants, moved by the way in which war changes human condition.

- The exhibition " Frontiers " by Rafael Alcalde (corrsspondent of EFE Agency in Andalusia), made up by a painstakingly chosen assortment of heartrending black and white images of the greatest exile of XXI Century made by refugees fleeing from the wars in Syria, Irak and Afghanistan with whom the photographer lived throughout many months in their gruesome march from the Serbian-Hungarian frontier to Austria.

The most peculiar trait of this picture diplay is that it was placed in the open air, in the Gran Capitán Avenue of Córdoba, with the aim of making the people walking across the area react and stop to watch the photographs and think about what is seen in them, which was utterly achieved.

- The presence of Rafael Navarro, nowadays one of the internationally most acclaimed photographers in the field of black and white in synergy with inner worlds, the eloquence of shapes and the junction of feelings, boasting a huge experience and vast professional career which started in early seventies.

His first session of the A Photographer at Your Table section, with review of portfolios, held at AFOCO (Association of Photographers from Córdoba) / Taberna Moriles Pata Negra headquarters, became a full-fledged class of photographic alchemy for the established limited audience of ten people.

He also participated in the Roundtable Photographers and Academies (In Remembrance of Juan Vacas), moderated by José Coyano Moyano, Director of the Córdoba Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts.

- The presence of Pablo Juliá, one of the leading photographers of the Spanish transition, with an experience of more than forty years, was throughout many years Director of Photography of El País newspaper and Director of the Andalusian Center of Photography.

His second session of the A Photographer At Your Table section, celebrated at the AFOCO / Taberna Moriles Pata Negra, where he underscored knowing to look as a quality that every photographer must try to enhance, as well as observing others´ work to learn, brought about high levels of interest among the attendees.

- The presence of José María Díaz Maroto, a reference-class photographer in the sphere of independent commissariate of exhibitions, the fostering of photography as an art and its teaching, being one of the teachers of the PhotoEspaña Master and having published more than 150 articles in Diario El Mundo, ABC, El País, FV, Foto Profesional, Photo, Diorama, as well as being Founder and President of the entreFotos Association until 2005.

His third session of the A Photographer At Your Table Section and Review of Potfolios held on May 13, 2017 at the AFOCO / Taberna Moriles Pata Negra main office was highly enlightening and useful for the attendants as a counselling regarding where to channel their efforts as photographers according to their abilities and market circumstances.

- The presence of Pepe Castro, presently one of the best portrait photographers in the professional arena, Member of the Toledo Royal Academy of Arts and Historical Sciences, in addition to being one of the directors of the prestigious DNG Photo Magazine online publication, a great master of light and a recognized expert in the medium format Hasselblad H Digital System.

His teaching participation in the Photographers and Academies Roundtable ( In Remebrance of Juan Vacas) at the Vimcorsa Assembly Hall was another meaningful allurement of this XV Córdoba International Biennal of Photography, with very valuable opinions firmly rooted on his great experience not only as a top level photographer, but also on his pedagogical prowess strengthened in a slew of photographic masters and workshops he has imparted in United States, Europe and South America.

- The presence of Francisco Sánchez Moreno, photographer of the Diario Córdoba newspaper throughout almost thirty years, sporting a great experience in the creation of timely topics which he combines with his inspired side (he´s made until now more than a hundred exhibitions, having won 20 prizes) and he has been a Member of the Córdoba Academy of Sciences and Arts since 2012.
he was another of the teachers of the Photographers and Academies Roundtable (In Remembrance of Juan Vacas) at the Vimcorsa Assembly Hall, and gave wise advice on how to look for defining images, what can be the environments with most photographic punch, the distribution potential of images and the most suitable media for their publication, etc.

- The lecture " The Fury of Images " imparted by Joan Fontcuberta at the Vimcorsa Assembly Hall and in which the internationally renowned photographer from Barcelona, Hasselblad Prize in 2013, with an extensive professional career pathway as an image scholar, essayist and comissar of exhibitions, deeply analyzed the situation which is being lived at present with respect to pictures, the huge volume of photographs flooding society, the rush and urgency to be the first which inevitably brings about a decrease in both the quality level and the accuracy of the information, etc.

- The lecture " Photojournalists and Pictures of the Civil War in Córdoba ", imparted at the Vimcorsa Assembly Hall by the photographer Antonio Jesús González, a recognized photojournalist from Córdoba featuring almost thirty years of experience in the creation of images (he has been picture editor and responsible of the Archive of Diario Córdoba newspaper since 1986 — a year in which he also collaborated with Tor Eigeland in National Geographic magazine — , likewise being correspondent o EFE Agency in Córdoba between 1991 and 1994 and has published his pictures in almost the whole daily and weekely Spanish press — El País, Diario 16, El Mundo, ABC, Tiempo, La Vanguardia, Interviú, Diario de Córdoba and other media —, in addition to boasting a distinguished career as a photographic comissar, lecturer, moderator, speaker, teacher and member of photographic juries in a wide range of picture contests, with the added complement of a solid photographic background including courses with Eva Rubinstein and Koldo Chamorro in 1988).
It was a great success of audience, who utterly overcrowded the hall and paid great heed to both the lecturer´s words and the liberal amount of images of the Civil War in Córdoba, many of them unknown.

- The exhibition " Absences " by Manuel Jesús Pineda, held at the Ignacio Barceló Gallery (AFOCO), made up by portraits of anonymous characters who are discreetly captured during their trip on public transports, immersed in moments in which there´s a loss of contact with the outside, engrossed in their own thoughts and in their own inner world.

A very original picture show with irrepeteable images made from a very near distance, but not being explicit, but riveting and mysterious.

- The exhibition " Twelve hours at the Louvre " by Katy Gómez Catalina, which was held at the Góngora Arte Room (IES Luis de Góngora), with black and white images in which the photographer depicts the Louvre Museum in Paris and its surroundings, specially the sapces where light streams in, generating shadows and textures making up a very interesting microcosmos.

- The exhibition " Looks of a City " by Jesús Chacón, held at the San Felipe Neri Room, with superb black and white portraits where the photographer has wanted to capture the city of Marbella through their people, particularly persons linked to the culture, art and sport, highlighting their glances, according to the guidelines of the most classic tradition of studio photography, striving after drawing the fundamental personality traits of the men and women appearing in their images, fruit of the mastery of technique, with a wise use of lighting, the empathy with his subjects and a revelling in each instant, searching for a visual harmony epicentred in a specific creative language and expression way.

- The exhibition " Sputtering " by Jorge Isla, in the Cajacruz Room, Gran Capitán, a highly peculiar display of images based on the flickering of fluorescent lights and its combinations, with an effect that unlike human vision, a photographic camera configured with the suitable paramaters is able to perceive.

That´s to say, it is essentially a photograph of light, boasting a great conceptual purity, based on metaabstract and metascientific tenets.

This exceedingly exotic and interesting exhibition was also visited by scads of visitors, fascinated by a type of photography which seems painting when being watched for the first time.

- The exhibition " The Human and Divine " by Carlos Duarte, which took place at the Mateo Inurria School of Art, was prominent because of its deep humanistic and athropological nature, with portraits of unutterable eloquence made to people living in areas of the world where money, rush in everything and consumism are irrelevant, indifferent to the power of multinationals and buisness lobbies, as well as telling things with their facial expressions and looks.

Countenances in which the many visitors of this exhibitions could discern an intimate commnication between the photographer and the photographed persons, maybe endangered human beings, belonging to peoples and cultures away from the " modern " globalization, but facing their future with laudable dignity and strength.

Carlos Duarte (Golden Medal of the Spanish Confederation of Photography, winner of some prizes in the National Geographic Portrait Section, First Position in the Canson Infinity Edition and twice Runner-Up of Sony Awards and H.I.P.A) proved once more in his portraiture a crafted talent to gain his subjects´ trust and capture their innermost personality, connecting if feasible with their soul and throbbing stories, it all reflected in his excellent book Between my Heart and My Index Finger.
Evidence of it are to name only some examples:

Mali, Mopti, " Stories of a Dubadu " (made at full aperture of the lens), " Mara, of the Arbore tribe in Abyssinia ", " The Novice, Myanmar, Bagán " (an outstanding portrait in black and white and high key) and many others.

- The lecture " 360º Photography : The New Format Within Everyone´s Reach " by Cristian Domínguez Rein-Loring, held at the Vimcorsa Hall was hugely interesting and dealt with the current genesis of a technological context linked to the image  in which 360º photography and video are starting to be commonly accepted at the same level as text, image and traditional video, after some decades of presence.

Cristian Domínguez Rein-Loring confirmed both his great knowledge and expertise on this kind of image capture and photographic tool and also regarding the sphere of virtual reality, being cofounder and director photographer of the firm newhorizonsvr having Ferrari, Disney, Bank of Santander, Antena 3, Bergé, Audi, Telefónica, El País and many others among its customers.

- The exhibition " Agonic Works and Other Pathologies. Memento Mori " by Ausín Sáinz, which had its venue at the Antonio Gala Foundation, brought about impact and pondering on the deep crisis of values suffered by human society in a number of significant sides, and to uphold it, he makes use of retro photomontages referring to vanity, pride, expiration and infinity, by means of intentional anacronisms, free recreations and a concern about the high degree of dependence on electronic devices nowadays experienced by human beings.

The aesthetics of his production, often baroque, fraught with restlessness and fantasy and grounded on images made with a digital camera and complex compositions through collages, catalyzed high doses of curiosity and meditation among the attendants, surprised by the amalgam of lights, colours and paint of these images.

- The exhibition " Refuge " by Alaa Chnana, which was held at the Gran Capitán Building in c/ Góngora, 5 of Córdoba, achieved utterly its goal of raise awareness in the observers of images captured throughout five years in different refugee camps and describing the War in Syria and its massive humanitarian crisis, focusing on the consequences it has on the childhood of boys and girls who are immersed in a massive exodus brought about by the conflict.
They are pictures which stirred the visitors´ cognizances, construing that reality with a harshness not exempt from beauty and in which there´s a transposition of sadness and joy, desperation and hope, in a temporary biotope inside no man´s land, preceded by a bewilderment and loss of identity regarding the past lives of these very young people.
The audience became highly impressed by his portraits of refugee children from the Syrian War, whose hardened glances and dishevelled hairs apparently unfold the heap of hardships experienced during it.

- The exhibition " 365 Days " by María María Acha-Kutscher had the Cardinal Salazar Galleries in Córdoba as venue and stuck to the concept of fight for woman emancipation and equality and the influence of feminine aspects on culture through images made with series of digital photographic collages created from pictures found in archives, internet, magazines, books and photographs made by the artist herself, having often organized her work in long term projects since 2011, year in which she began devoting full-time to her artistic oeuvre, being for her pivotal that her projects were exhibited in public spaces, being part of the flow of everyday life of the city inhabitants, with a popular aesthetics.

This picture display was made up by 365 small format photographic collages, handcrafted from old images and envisaged as a diary, with black and white pictures in which references to art are constant, frequently insertiong well-known sculptures and asserting the history that wasn´t but could have been.

- The lecture " XXI Century Travel, Photography and Smartphone " by Francisco Javier Fernández Bordonada (Chavi Nández), which took place at the Vimcorsa Room, brought about remarkable attention among the attendees, on delving into the versatility, immediacy, possibility of acces to conetnts and choice of getting pictures that has meant the arrival of Smartphones as a new tool for the capture of images, along with its interconnection with nanotechnology and increasingly powerful and sophisticated computers, resulting in a very wide range of applications in every scope.
Chavi Nández proved his mastery in this technological environment and his great expertise in image capture as a professional photographer, graphic designer and teacher, with a multidisciplinary gift in audiovisual media, having published pictures in such magazines and newspapers as National Geographic, The Guardian, Belle Europe. The Australian Travel Magazine, Bilan, Viagem, Geo Voyage and others.

- The lecture " Robert Capa in Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936. The Leica II (Model D) Captures the Fear of Death. Harangue at the Finca de Villa Alicia and Flight of the Village Refugees. Genesis of the Modern War Photojournalism " by José Manuel Serrano Esparza at the Vimcorsa Meeting Room, gathered an abundant number of attendees and elaborated on the two extraordinary reportages made by Robert Capa in Cerro Muriano (Córdoba) on September 5, 1936 and much more important than the Falling Soldier iconic picture, both from a photographic and human viewpoint:

a) The Harangue at the Finca de Villa Alicia.

b )The Flight of the Village Refugees because of the bombing by the Francoist aviation.

The modern and dynamic war photojournalism was born with these two reportages made by Capa in Cerro Muriano on September 5, 1936, which are among the ten most important ones in the History of Photography.

Many of these images featuring huge dramatism and captured from an exceedingly near distance, brought about very high doses of expectation, thrill and emotional intensity among the audience.


Therefore, this XV Córdoba International Biennal of Photography has been a first-rate international cultural event in which the Córdoba Town Council has gone beyond itself, once more with the previous strenuous work of organization fulfilled by David Luque (Deputy Mayor of Culture and Heritage of Córdoba Town Hall), Juan Carlos Limia (General Coordinator of the XV Biennal), Oscar Fernández (Commissar of the Official Section), José María Casas Pérez (General Coordinator), José F. Gálvez (Coordinator of the Complementary Activities) and others, in the same way as AFOCO (Association of Photographers from Córdoba, founded in 1981 by Juan Vacas, Alicia Reguera and José F. Gálvez), which has worked shoulder to shoulder with the municipal corporation since the birth of the Córdoba Biennal of Photography in 1985, boosted by this photographic entity which has turned by its own merits into an international level benchmark ( even publishing currently the online photographic magazine AFOCO News in PDF format, one of the best in the world in Spanish, including very good articles with a commendable quality of pictures and texts) and which has fought tooth and nail for thirty-five years to place Córdoba within the cream of the crop of European and world photographic scenery, to such an extent that Córdoba has been hitherto the only city of Spain being awarded the National Prize of Photography bestowed by the CEF (Spanish Confederation of Photography) in its four categories: 1992 (Best Association: AFOCO), 1993 (Best Institution: Córdoba City Council), 1998 (Best Publication: Diafragma Foto Magazine) and 2006 (Best Photographer: José F. Gálvez), as well as granting the famous Mezquita Prize of Photography, within the élite of the European photographic awards, without forgetting the great endeavour made by Ana Verdú, Director of the Córdoba Archive, and the photographer Antonio Jesús González to preserve the History of Córdoba Photography from mid XIX Century until now.

Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

XV Bienal Internacional de Fotografía de Córdoba: Reflexiones sobre un Histórico Éxito


La XV Bienal de Fotografía de Córdoba que acaba de terminar ha sido probablemente el acontecimiento fotográfico más importante celebrado en 2017 a nivel mundial, batiéndose todos los récords de asistencia desde que este evento cultural constituido por abundantes exhibiciones de alto nivel, conferencias y mesas redondas inició su singladura en 1985, ya que según las cifras aportadas por David Luque, Segundo Teniente de Alcalde y Delegado de Cultura del Ayuntamiento de Córdoba, ha habido un total de 41.000 visitantes (cifra que se aproximaría a los 65.000 si se incluyen los muchos miles de personas más que vieron la excelente exhibición Fronteras de Rafael Alcaide, cuyas imágenes en blanco y negro estuvieron expuestas en el Bulevar Gran Capitán).

Algo ciertamente insólito y que tiene un mérito enorme, ya que Córdoba es una ciudad relativamente pequeña con 325.000 habitantes, a diferencia de las grandes urbes de Europa, Estados Unidos, Japón y China que habitualmente son sede de acontecimientos fotográficos de esta relevancia, poseen poblaciones de millones de habitantes y muchos más recursos de todo tipo.

Y no era para menos, ya que la apuesta del Ayuntamiento de Córdoba por la fotografía lleva ya muchos años siendo fortísima, por lo que los contenidos ofrecidos en esta XV Bienal a un público cada vez más interesado por la fotografía han sido verdaderamente impresionantes, destacando:

- La exposición " La Maleta Mexicana ", organizada por el International Center of Photography de Nueva York.

La exhibición fotográfica más importante a nivel internacional en lo que va de siglo XXI y constituida por 4.500 negativos originales de fotografías hechas por Robert Capa, Gerda Taro y Chim durante la Guerra Civil Española, de los que la Bienal de Córdoba ha ofrecido una cuidada selección de imágenes cuya joya de la corona han sido las dos hojas de contactos murales tamaño gigante 3 x 2 metros de las fotos hechas por Gerda Taro en La Granjuela en 1937, realizadas por el ICP de Nueva York en colaboración con el Laboratorio Picto de París.

- La exposiciónNicaragua" de la fotógrafa de la Agencia Magnum Susan Meiselas, uno de los reportajes fotoperiodísticos más importantes en toda la historia de la fotografía mundial, que supuso un punto de inflexión y la difusión a partir de principios de los años ochenta del color como medio fotográfico predominante en las mejores publicaciones ilustradas, consolidando notablemente los preceptos establecidos por Ernst Haas, William Egglestone, Joel Meyerowitz, Larry Burrows, Harry Gruyaert, Alex Webb y otros, además de constituir uno de los momentos más gloriosos de la mítica película Kodachrome 64 formato 24 x 36 mm en color (aunque en realidad su ADN es blanco y negro de élite), la mejor emulsión química jamás fabricada, cuyas inimitables características y muy peculiar estética de imagen, verdaderamente soberbias, pudieron apreciar en directo los muchos miles de personas que asistieron a esta exposición en el Centro de Arte Rafael Botí de Córdoba.

- La exposición " Imágenes del Mundo y Epitafios de Guerra, con la colección de fotografías bélicas de Michael Zapke ", una de las más importantes del mundo.

- La exposición  " Historia Gráfica de la Guerra Civil en Córdoba ", con un amplísimo surtido de imágenes de fotografías de guerra en dicha provincia andaluza, pertenecientes a la colección de Manuel Fernández Delgado, la más relevante a nivel mundial en este ámbito.

Esta exposición fue otra de las sensaciones de esta inolvidable XV Bienal Internacional de Fotografía de Córdoba, con una exquisita presentación de las fotografías a notable tamaño, la inmensa mayoría de ellas hechas a partir de negativo original o placas de cristal de gran formato, con una espectacular calidad de imagen que hizo las delicias del público que se dió cita en el Teatro Cómico Principal de Córdoba, sede de esta extraordinaria exhibición, que mostró además en primicia mundial una fotografía de la guerra civil española ampliada a tamaño 5 x 2.5 metros (realizada a partir de la placa original de cristal de gran formato 13 x 18 cm)que tapaba el escenario del mencionado teatro y que pese al gigantesco factor de ampliación preservaba muy bien la nitidez de imagen gracias a la superficie muy grande del negativo original de vidrio y a la acutancia del revelador Agfa Rodinal utilizado hace más de 80 años.

- La presencia de nada menos que cuatro fotoperiodistas de guerra de auténtica talla internacional: Gervasio Sánchez, Emilio Morenatti, Samuel Aranda y Manu Bravo.

La Conferencia " Sarajevo 25 Años Después " de Gervasio Sánchez en el Salón de Actos Vimcorsa el 3 de Abril de 2017, moderada por Francisco González fue memorable y tuvo una masiva afluencia de público.

Por su parte, la mesa redonda Fotógrafos en Guerra, celebrada en el Salón de Actos Vimcorsa, moderada por Pablo Juliá y que contó con la presencia de Emilio Morenatti, Samuel Aranda y Manu Bravo, estuvo también repleta de asistentes y fue interesantísima, muy intensa, y en ella los tres fotoperiodistas de guerra disertaron sobre la problemática y riesgos inherentes hoy en día a la profesión de reportero bélico, así como la ética de trabajo y el contexto económico relacionado con las imágenes obtenidas.

-  La exposición " Wa Habibi " de Carole Alfarah, con conmovedoras fotografías sobre la Guerra de Siria, se convirtió por méritos propios en uno de los referentes de esta XV Bienal de Fotografía de Córdoba 2017, y la Casa Árabe de Córdoba, sede donde tuvo lugar, recibió la visita de muchos miles de asistentes, impresionados por cómo la guerra altera la condición humana.

- La exposición Fronteras " de Rafael Alcaide (corresponsal de la agencia EFE en Andalucía), formada por una muy cuidada selección de desgarradoras imágenes en blanco y negro del mayor exilio del Siglo XXI, protagonizado por refugiados de las guerras de Siria, Irak y Afghanistan con los que convivió el fotógrafo durante muchos meses en su penosa marcha desde la frontera serbo-húngara hasta Austria.

La característica más singular de esta muestra es que estuvo ubicada al aire libre, en el Bulevar del Gran Capitán de Córdoba, con la intención de hacer reaccionar a los muchos miles de personas que pasaban por la zona y que se pararan a ver las fotografías y reflexionar sobre ellas, lo cual se consiguió plenamente.

- La presencia de Rafael Navarro, hoy por hoy uno de los fotógrafos referentes mundiales en génesis de magia del blanco y negro en sinergia con mundos interiores, la elocuencia de la forma y el cruce de sensibilidades, con una enorme experiencia y extensísima carrera profesional que se inició a principios de los años setenta.

Su 1ª  sesión de Un Fotógrafo en tu Mesa, con revisión de porfolios, celebrada en la Sede de AFOCO / Taberna Moriles Pata Negra se convirtió en toda una clase de alquimia fotográfica para el aforo máximo establecido de diez personas.

También participó en la Mesa Redonda Fotógrafos y Academias (En Memoria de Juan Vacas), moderada por José Coyano Moyano, Director de la Real Academia de Córdoba.

- La presencia de Pablo Juliá, uno de los más importantes fotógrafos de la transición española, con una experiencia de más de cuarenta años en el sector, fue durante muchos años director de la sección gráfica de El País y Director del Centro Andaluz de Fotografía.

Su 2ª Sesión de Un Fotógrafo en tu Mesa, celebrada en la sede de AFOCO / Taberna Moriles Pata Negra, donde se recalcó el saber mirar como una cualidad que cualquier fotógrafo debe intentar potenciar, así como observar el trabajo de los demás para aprender, suscitó un notable interés entre los asistentes.

- La presencia de José María Díaz Maroto, un fotógrafo referente en el ámbito del comisariado independiente de exposiciones, la promoción de la fotografía como arte y su docencia, siendo uno de los profesores del Master PhotoEspaña y habiendo publicado desde 1983 más de 150 artículos en Diario El Mundo, ABC, El País, FV, Foto Profesional, Photo, Diorama, además de ser Fundador y Presidente de la Asociación entreFotos hasta el año 2005.

Su 3ª Sesión de Un Fotógrafo en tu Mesa y revisión de porfolios celebrada el 13 de Mayo de 2017 en la Sede de AFOCO / Taberna Moriles Pata Negra fue muy interesante y sirvió a los asistentes como orientación sobre hacia donde poder encaminar sus esfuerzos como fotógrafos conforme a sus capacidades y circunstancias de mercado.

- La presencia de Pepe Castro, hoy en día uno de los mejores fotógrafos de retrato a nivel internacional, Miembro de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes y Ciencias Históricas de Toledo, es uno de los directores de la prestigiosa revista online digital DNG Photo Magazine, gran dominador de la luz y reputado especialista del sistema Hasselblad digital de formato medio.

Su participación como ponente en la Mesa Redonda Fotógrafos y Academias (En Memoria de Juan Vacas) en el Salón de Actos Vimcorsa fue otro significativo aliciente de esta XV Bienal Internacional de Fotografía de Córdoba, con opiniones muy valiosas firmemente cimentadas en su gran experiencia no sólo como fotógrafo de muy alto nivel, sino también por sus cualidades pedagógicas consolidadas en abundantes masters y talleres de fotografías que ha impartido en Estados Unidos, Europa y Sudamérica.

- La presencia de Francisco Sánchez Moreno, redactor gráfico del Diario Córdoba durante casi treinta años y fotógrafo con gran experiencia en la creación de imágenes de actualidad que compagina con su faceta creativa (ha realizado hasta la fecha más de cien exposiciones, habiendo ganado 20 premios), siendo además Miembro de la Real Academia de Ciencias, Bellas Artes y Nobles Artes de Córdoba desde 2012.

Su participación como ponente en la Mesa Redonda Fotógrafos y Academias (En Memoria de Juan Vacas) en el Salón de Actos Vimcorsa fue importante, con sabios consejos sobre como buscar las imágenes definitorias, cuales puden ser los contextos con más impacto fotográfico, potencial de salida de las imágenes y medios más adecuados para su publicación, etc.

- La ConferenciaLa Furia de Las Imágenes" de Joan Fontcuberta, que tuvo lugar en el Salón de Actos Vimcorsa y en la que el fotógrafo barcelonés de talla internacional, Premio Hasselblad en 2013, con gran trayectoria como docente, ensayista y comisario de exposiciones, analizó en profundidad la situación que se vive en estos momentos con respecto a las imágenes, el enorme volumen de fotografías que inunda la sociedad, la prisa y la urgencia por ser el primero que inevitablemente hace bajar el nivel y la precisión en las informaciones, etc.

- La conferencia Fotoperiodistas y Fotografías de la Guerra Civil en Córdoba " de Antonio Jesús González, reconocido fotoperiodista cordobés con casi treinta años de experiencia en la creación de imágenes (es redactor gráfico y responsable del Archivo del Diario Córdoba desde 1986 - año en el que además colaboró con Tor Eigeland en la revista National Geographic-, fue corresponsal de la Agencia EFE en Córdoba entre 1991 y 1994 y ha publicado sus fotografías en la casi totalidad de prensa diaria y semanal española - El País, Diario 16, El Mundo, ABC, Tiempo, La Vanguardia, Interviú, Diario de Córdoba y otros medios-, además de contar en su haber con una acreditada trayectoria como comisario fotográfico, conferenciante, moderador, ponente, profesor, y miembro de jurado en una amplia gama de concursos fotográficos, con el complemento añadido de una sólida formación fotográfica que incluyó cursos con Eva Rubinstein y Koldo Chamorro en 1988).

Tuvo lugar en la Sala Vimcorsa y fue un gran éxito de público, que llenó la sala a reventar y prestó gran atención tanto a las palabras del conferenciante como al muy amplio surtido de imágenes de la Guerra Civil en Córdoba, muchas de ellas inéditas.

- La exposición " Ausencias " de Manuel Jesús Pineda, ubicada en la Galería Ignacio Barceló (AFOCO), constituida por retratos de personajes anónimos que son captados en su viaje en transportes urbanos, inmersos en momentos en los que hay una pérdida de contacto con el exterior, absortos en sus propios pensamientos y en su propio mundo interior.

Una muestra muy original, con fotografías irrepetibles, captadas desde una distancia muy próxima, pero no explícitas, sino sugerentes e impregnadas de misterio.

- La exposición " Doce Horas en el Louvre " de Katy Gómez Catalina, que tuvo lugar en la Sala Góngora Arte (IES Luis de Góngora), con imágenes en blanco y negro en las que la fotógrafa plasma el Museo del Louvre de París y sus aledaños, especialmente los espacios donde la luz entra a raudales, produciendo sombras y texturas que forman un microcosmos muy interesante.

- La exposición " Miradas de una Ciudad " de Jesús Chacón, celebrada en la Sala San Felipe Neri, con soberbios retratos en blanco y negro donde el fotógrafo ha querido retratar la ciudad de Marbella a través de su gente, en especial personas vinculadas al mundo de la cultura, el arte y el deporte, dando protagonismo a sus miradas, en línea con la tradición más clásica de la fotografía de estudio, luchando por extraer los rasgos fundamentales de la personalidad de los hombres y mujeres que aparecen en sus imágenes, fruto del dominio de la técnica, con un sabio uso de la iluminación, la empatía con sus sujetos y el disfrute de cada instante, en busca de una armonía visual epicentrada en un particular lenguaje creativo y modo de expresión.

- La exposición " Sputtering " de Jorge Isla, en la Sala Cajasur, Gran Capitán, una muestra muy peculiar basada en el parpadeo de luces fluorescentes y sus combinaciones, con un efecto que la visión humana es incapaz de percibir, pero sí la cámara configurándola con unos parámetros adecuados.

Es decir, se trata en esencia de una fotografía de la luz, de gran pureza conceptual, basada en preceptos metaabstractos y metacientíficos.

Esta muy exótica e interesante exhibición fue visitada también por numerosos asistentes, fascinados por un tipo de fotografía que cuando se contempla por vez primera parece pintura.

-  La exposición " Lo Humano y Lo Divino " de Carlos Duarte, que tuvo lugar en la Escuela de Arte Mateo Inurra de Córdoba, destacó por su profundo perfil humanista y antropológico, con retratos de inefable expresividad hechos a personas que viven en zonas del mundo donde el dinero, la prisa en todo y el consumismo son irrelevantes, ajenos al poder de multinacionales y lobbies empresariales, y que cuentan cosas con sus gestos y miradas.

Rostros en los que los muchos visitantes de esta exhibición pudieron captar una comunicación íntima del fotógrafo con las personas fotografiadas, seres quizá en vías de extinición, pertenecientes a pueblos y culturas alejados de la "moderna" globalización, pero que afrontan su devenir con encomiable dignidad y fuerza.

Carlos Duarte (Medalla de Oro de la Confederación Española de Fotografía, ganador de varios premios en la Sección National Geographic Portraits, Primer Puesto en la Edición Canson Infinity y dos veces Finalista en los Sony Award y en la H.I.P.A demostró una vez más en sus retratos un trabajado talento para ganarse la confianza de sus sujetos y plasmar su más intrínseca personalidad, conectando si es posible con su alma y sus historias palpitantes, todo ello reflejado en su gran libro Entre Mi Corazón y Mi Índice.

Prueba de ello son por mencionar sólo algunos ejemplos:

Mali, Mopti, " Historias de un Dubadu " (hecho a diafragma abierto), " Mara, de la tribu Arbore en Abisinia ", " El Novicio, Myanmar, Bagán" (excelente retrato en blanco y negro en clave alta) y muchos otros.

- La Conferencia " Fotografía 360º : El Nuevo Formato al Alcance de Todos " de Cristian Domínguez Rein-Loring en la Sala Vimcorsa fue enormemente interesante y disertó sobre la génesis en el momento presente de un contexto tecnológico vinculado a la imagen en el que la fotografía y el video de 360º están comenzando a ser aceptados comúnmente a la par que el texto, la imagen y el vídeo tradicional, tras varias décadas de presencia.

Cristian Domínguez Rein-Loring acreditó su gran conocimiento y experiencia con esta modalidad de captación de imagen y de herramienta fotográfica así como en el ámbito de la realidad virtual, siendo cofundador y director de fotografía de la empresa newhorizonsvr que tiene entre sus clientes a Ferrari, Disney, Banco de Santander, Antena 3, Bergé, Audi, Telefónica, El País y muchos otros.

- La exposición " Obras Agónicas y Otras Patologías. Memento Mori " de Ausín Sáinz, que tuvo su sede en la Fundación Antonio Gala, generó impacto y reflexión sobre la profunda crisis de valores que en diversas facetas importantes padece la sociedad humana, y para dar fe de ello, el fotógrafo se sirve de fotomontajes retro que aluden a la vanidad, el orgullo, la caducidad y la infinitud, mediante anacronismos intencionados, recreaciones libres y una preocupación por el alto grado de dependencia de los dispositivos electrónicos que tienen los seres humanos hoy en día.

La estética de su producción, con frecuencia barroca, preñada de inquietud y fantasía y basada en imágenes hechas con cámara digital y composiciones complejas mediante collages, catalizaron elevadas dosis de curiosidad y meditación entre los asistentes, sorprendidos por la amalgama de luces, colores y pintura de estas imágenes.

- La exposición " Refugio " de Alaa Chnana, que fue albergada por el Edificio Gran Capitán en la c/ Góngora 5 de Córdoba, consiguió plenamente su objetivo de sensibilizar a los observadores de unas imágenes captadas durante cinco años en diferentes campos de refugiados y que describen la Guerra de Siria y su gigantesca crisis humanitaria centrándose en las consecuencias que tiene en la infancia de niños y niñas que se ven inmersos en un masivo éxodo generado por el conflicto bélico.

Son fotografías que removieron las conciencias de los visitantes, describiendo dicha realidad con una crudeza no exenta de belleza y en la que se alternan tristeza y alegría, desesperación y esperanza, en un biotopo coyuntural que es tierra de nadie, precedido por una desorientación y pérdida de identidad con respecto a las vidas pasadas de estas personas de corta edad.

El público quedó muy impresionado por sus retratos de niños refugiados de la Guerra de Siria, cuyas miradas endurecidas y cabellos desgreñados reflejan claramente el cúmulo de penalidades experimentadas durante la contienda.

- La exposición " 365 Días " de María María Acha- Kutscher tuvo como sede las Galerías Cardenal Salazar de Córdoba e incidió en la lucha por la emancipación e igualdad de la mujer y la influencia de lo femenino en la cultura mediante imágenes realizadas con series de collages fotográficos digitales creados a partir de imágenes de archivo, de internet, revistas, libros y fotografías hechas por la propia artista, organizando habitualmente su trabajo en proyectos a largo plazo desde que en 2001 comenzó a dedicarse a su obra artística a tiempo completo, siendo para ella imprescindible el que sus proyectos fueran exhibidos en espacios públicos, formando parte del flujo de la vida cotidiana de los habitantes de la ciudad, con una estética popular.

Esta muestra estuvo formada por 365 collages fotográficos de pequeño formato, elaborados a partir de imágenes antiguas y concebidos a modo de diario, con fotografías en blanco y negro en las que las referencias al arte son constantes, insertando frecuentemente esculturas conocidas y reivindicando la historia que no fue, pero que pudo ser.

- La conferencia " Fotografía y Ceguera. La Paradoja Posible" de Ángela Sairaf, que tuvo lugar en la Sala Vimcorsa, mostró al público asistente las inusuales interacciones de los invidentes con el mundo que les rodea, de tal manera que les permite ser creativos y tener visión fotográfica, mediante técnicas propias repletas de intensidad, visualizando, encuadrando y enfocando gracias a su extraordinaria capacidad de comunicación.

Esta fue una de las disertaciones que más impacto causó de entre todas las que tuvieron lugar durante la XV Bienal de Fotografía de Córdoba, en especial el concepto de ceguera y fotografía unidos por el arte, vinculado a su libro Préstame Tus Ojos, proyecto documental donde la fotógrafa narra su experiencia realizando sesiones con 24 fotógrafos de diferentes países de los cuales ocho eran invidentes.

- La conferencia " El Viaje del Siglo XXI, Fotografía y Smartphone " de Francisco Javier Fernández Bordonada (Chavi Nández), que tuvo lugar en la Sala Vimcorsa, suscitó notable interés entre los asistentes, al profundizar en la versatilidad, inmediatez, posibilidad de acceso a contenidos y opción de hacer fotografías que ha supuesto la llegada de los Smartphones como nueva herramienta para la captación de imágenes. así como su interconexión con la nanotecnología y unos ordenadores cada vez más potentes y evolucionados, con lo que se genera una amplísima gama de aplicaciones en todos los ámbitos.

Chavi Nández mostró su dominio de este entorno tecnológico y su gran experiencia en captación de imágenes como fotógrafo profesional, diseñador gráfico y docente, con un talento multidisciplinar en medios audiovisuales, habiendo publicado fotografías en revistas y periódicos de la talla de National Geographic, The Guardian, Belle Europe. The Australian Travel Magazine, Bilan, Viagem, Geo Voyage y otras.

- La conferencia " Robert Capa en Cerro Muriano, 5 de Septiembre de 1936. La Leica II (Model D) capta el Miedo a la Muerte. Arenga en la Finca de Villa Alicia y Huida de los Refugiados del Pueblo. Génesis del Fotoperiodismo de Guerra Moderno " de José Manuel Serrano Esparza, en la Sala Vimcorsa, congregó a muy numeroso público asistente y puso en valor los dos extraordinarios reportajes hechos por Robert Capa en Cerro Muriano (Córdoba) el 5 de Septiembre de 1936 y mucho más importantes que la icónica fotografía de El Miliciano Abatido, tanto desde un punto de vista fotográfico como humano:

a) La Arenga en la Finca de Villa Alicia.

b) La Huída de los Refugiados de Cerro Muriano ante el bombardeo del pueblo por la aviación franquista.

Con estos dos reportajes nace el moderno y dinámico fotoperiodismo de guerra.

Muchas de estas imágenes, de enorme dramatismo y captadas desde muy cerca por Capa, generaron muy elevadas dosis de expectación e intensidad emocional entre los asistentes.


Así pues, esta XV Bienal de Fotografía de Córdoba ha sido un evento cultural de primerísimo nivel internacional en el que el Ayuntamiento de Córdoba se ha superado a sí mismo, una vez más con el ímprobo trabajo previo de organización por parte de David Luque (Teniente de Alcalde de Cultura y Patrimonio del Ayuntamiento de Córdoba), Juan Carlos Limia (Coordinador General de la Bienal), Oscar Fernández (Director Artístico de la Sección Oficial), José María Casas Pérez (Coordinador General), José F. Gálvez (Coordinador de las Actividades Complementarias) y otros, al igual que AFOCO (Asociación de Fotógrafos Cordobeses, fundada en 1981 por Juan Vacas, Alicia Reguera y José F. Gálvez), que trabaja codo a codo con la corporación municipal desde que la Bienal nació en 1985 a impulsos de esta organización fotográfica que se ha convertido desde hace años por méritos propios en un referente de dimensión internacional (incluso hoy en día publican la revista de fotografía online AFOCO News, en formato PDF, entre las mejores del mundo en español, con artículos de gran nivel y una encomiable calidad de imágenes y textos) que lleva ya 35 años luchando a brazo partido por situar a Córdoba entre la élite del panorama fotográfico europeo y mundial, hasta el punto de que Córdoba ha sido hasta la fecha la única ciudad de España a la que se ha otorgado el Premio Nacional de Fotografía que concede la CEF (Confederación Española de Fotografía) en sus cuatro categorías: 1992 (Mejor Asociación: AFOCO), 1993 (Mejor Institución; Ayuntamiento de Córdoba), 1998 (Mejor Publicación: Revista Diafragma Foto) y 2006 (Mejor Fotógrafo: José F. Gálvez), además de otorgar los famosos Premios Mezquita de Fotografía, situados desde hace décadas entre la flor y nata de los galardones fotográficos europeos, sin olvidar la gran labor desarrollada por Ana Verdú, Directora del Archivo Municipal de Córdoba, y el fotógrafo Antonio Jesús González en pro de la preservación y difusión de la Historia de la Fotografía Cordobesa desde mediados del siglo XIX hasta hoy en día.

Texto y Fotos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

lunes, 22 de mayo de 2017


Ducati Monster M900, a revolutionary concept bike which was presented at the October 1992 IFMA Cologne Motorcycle Show. A machine featuring great personality and true Ducati soul. It envisaged and pioneered the naked motorcycle worldwide trend, boasting more than enough power, first-rate components, light weight, great agility and torque, both aggressive and posh geometry, enjoyable riding, thrilling appearance and design elegance to spare.

Thirty-seen different models of Ducati Monster have been made throughout 25 years, with sales exceeding 300,000 units hitherto, which turns this concept bike into one of the most successful sagas in the whole history of motorcycling, to such an exent that the fundamental bedrock of this lineage of bike keeps on being utterly sound nowadays and a new generation of riders starts grasping the qualities of this real thoroughbred on two wheels created by Miguel Angel Galluzzi and whose twenty fifth anniversary is celebrated this year 2017.

                                   © José Manuel Serrano Esparza


Late 1991, Ducati is enjoying a very sweet stage of its history. Massimo Bordi and Gianluigi Mengoli have managed to achieve the transition from the Ducati air-cooled 2-valve racers to the new liquid cooled 4-valve, fuel injection Desmoquattro engined Ducati sports bikes, whose technological apex has been the new bore x stroke 94 x 64 mm Ducati 888 factory racer combining a blazing speed for the time of 152 mph (244,62 km/h), a significantly improved reliability and a wonderful very small and light liquid-cooled four-stroke V-Twin four valves cylinder desmodromic engine with valve operation and shim adjustment.

Ducati has already begun its halcyon days in the World Superbike Competition started in 1990 (it will attain the amazing figure of 15 SBK World Championships between 1990 and 2011), winning two ones back-to-back titles: Raymond Roche in 1990 with a Ducati 851 and Doug Polen in 1991 (nailing nothing less than 17 victories of the 24 SBK races that year and becoming champion with a margin of 150 points) with a Ducati 851 prepared by the Fast by Ferracci Ducati Team under the helm of the mechanic wizard Eraldo Ferracci.

The symbiosis between the geniuses Massimo Bordi and Gianluigi Mengoli (the latter turning into metal all the designs created by Bordi, as well as having developed a new higher performance combustion chamber slightly reducing the valve angles from 60º to 56º, getting a more compact cylinder head and making possible to insert bigger valves by means of a new configuration locating the camshafts more directly with respect to them) is proving to be highly efficient and has brought about the manufacturing of the state-of-the-art Ducati 851 SBK and Ducati 888 SBK bikes with hugely powerful and fast desmodromic V-90 twin engines (the former delivering 132 h.p at 11,500 rpm with a top speed of 285 km/h and the latter rendering 134 h.p at 12,000 rpm with maximum speed of 295 km/h) with chain and gear-drive transmission and featuring dual overhead camshafts, two cylinders with a total of eight valves (four per cylinder), rolling chassis and a very advanced programmable fuel injection with which they have beaten the cream of the crop of Japanese 750 c.c four-cylinder bikes of the time: the Yamahas FZR 750R OWO 1 and the Hondas RC30.

In addition to the confirmation of Ducati´s rule in the SBK World Championship, winning its third in a row title, the year 1992 meant the emrgence of a revolutionary concept bike lacking fairing that would spring the worldwide " naked " trend ahead: the Ducati Monster (whose first archetype was the M900), which got a huge sales success preceding other Monsters of different capacities which would hugely consolidate the new species and would give rise to one of the most thriving sagas in the whole history of motorcycling.

This is a turning point in the history of Ducati, whose technological proficiency has achieved incredible performance, a new combined chain and gear-drive arrangement instead of the original belt-drive concept used since the introduction of the Ducati Pantah in 1979, smoothness at full speed, unique torque and mid range strength in the 851 and 888 models, together with power to spare, with the added advantage of a perfect computer controlled Weber-Marelli fuel injection delivery and a remarkable Italian elegance of design.

As a matter of fact, the Ducati 888 is going to win 43 of the 52 World Superbike races between 1991 and 1992.

While Ducati was developing its Project of 851 and 888 bikes for the SBK World Championship with Massimo Bordi and Ginaluigi Mengoli as creative and driving minds of the eight valve (four per cylinder) V-Twin desmodromic engine new technology, Miguel Angel galluzzi worked in the design of the Ducati Monster concept focused on the rigid and at the same time light multitubular Trellis steel frame (the image depicts the one featured by the Ducati Monster M900, first model of the saga) and the air-cooled 4 valve (two per cylinder), 78 hp and 904 cc Desmodue 90º V-Twin from the Ducati 900 SS, with the great change that everything would go in the air, without any fairing and with a high torque making it very comfortable to use.

Front headlight of the Ducati Monster M900 from 1993. Another of the distinctive traits of the species, which has been preserved throughout its 25 years existence. The small part on the right is the control switch with its connecting 10-point wire.

Giovanni Castiglioni, owner of Cagiva Group (who had bought Ducati in 1985) grasps that this is a one in a lifetime chance and the fruition of Massimo Bordi´s 1978 Bolognia University Doctoral Thesis " Desmoquattro Cylinder Head Design " in the Ducatis 851 SBK and 888 SBK (applying some important concepts of the 1966 Cosworth 16-valve 1600 c.c 225 bhp engine for Formula 2 — which would subsequently be the basis for the three litre Cosworth DFV 90º V8  408 bhp Formula 1 racing car engine and four valves per cylinder, able to defeat the 12-cylinder Formula 1 Ferraris thanks to its superior performance — to twin-cylinder Ducati sports bikes, above all the introduction of two cylinder heads with four valves each one, along with the top-notch combustion chambers following the Cosworth concept, making them synergyze with the state-of-the-art desmodromic system to avoid power losses because of friction and increase the engine output to maximum possible rpm together with top control and rideability, in addition to his solving of the technical hitch of attaining a narrow angle of 40º between the valves) has placed Ducati at the forefront of motorcyling technology across the board.
Sturdy fuel tank of the Ducati Monster M900. Devised by Miguel Angel Galluzzi, its spectacular contours turned it from the start into one of the most prominent traits of the Monster saga.

But Massimo Bordi realizes that the impressive technological feats attained giving birth to a new breed of twin-cylinder eight-valve Ducati bikes between 1987 and 1991 (which will spawn new wonderful sporting models like the Ducati 916 in 1994, the Ducati 996 in 1999 and the Ducati 998 in 2002) are not enough to guarantee the economical survival of the firm whatsoever, because production costs of the 851 and 888 thoroughbreeds are very high, and the overall investment of wherewithal from his pocket by Giovanni Castiglioni, financial driving force of the Ducati 851 and 888 SBK Project, has been huge.

Ducati Monster M900 from 1993, property of the Belgian expert and collector Mario De Witte, founder of the Ducati Monster Owners Belgium in 2004 and great promoter of the world´s largest parade of Ducati Monsters bikes ever made, with nothing less than 405 units, which took place on September 24, 2008 in Hamme (Belgium), being within the Guinness Book of Records on its own merits. Designed by Miguel Angel Galluzzi, it is a two-cylinder bike featuring an air-cooled four-stroke desmodromic Desmodue 90º V-Twin engine with two valves per cylinder. 904 cc capacity, six-speed gearbox, tubular steel Trellis frame, extraordinary weight/power/volume ratio, high torque, very comfortable to use and top speed of 131 miles/h (211 km/h. It became a milestone in the History of Motorcycling and was the machine paving the way for the worldwide "naked" trend, in addition to transforming street motorcycle market.

It is necessary to create a further completely different Ducati iconic bike, revolutionary in as many sides as possible, with the "enjoy the riding" as raison d´être and able to become a tremendous commercial success, assuring the Borgo Panigale firm future and financial soundness, in such a way that the cash flow generated with its sales can also be partially invested in going ahead with the SBK World Championship sporting bikes sphere, in which Ducati is working like a charm.

It´s now when Massimo Bordi´s experience and nose prove to be decisive: he chooses a young exceedingly gifted Ducati engineer called Miguel Ángel Galluzzi to create a new concept bike, whose list of specification is truly stunning:

- A minimalist naked design showing engine and frame, stripped down to the bare essentials, without any superfluous attachments.

- Shock absorbing system with multitubular chrome molibden steel Trellis frame taken from the 851 SBK and 888 SBK, optimizing structural efficiency and being an integral part of the design, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the bodywork.

- Torquey air-cooled four-stroke Desmodue 90º V-Twin engine of the Ducati 900 SS (whose power is increased from 863,9 cc to 904 cc) featuring two valves per cylinder, 80 hp at 7,500 rpm, bore x stroke of 92 x 68 mm (modified with respect to the original measures of 86 x 74.4 mm), primary drive through straight cut gears and secondary by chain, and which is provided with a 6 speed transmission instead of the five one in the 900 SS).

- Mass and strength making up a riveting sight for any observer.

- Outstanding power and very easy rideability.

- Small dimensions and surprising agility for its power output.

- Belt driven desmodromic valves.

- Beauty and efficiency to spare in symbiosis with muscle.

- Agile sportsbike like handling.

- Pretty high torque from low revs upwards and amazing response.

Air-cooled four-stroke Desmodromic 90º V-Twin engine of a Ducati Monster M900 from 1993. This powerplant created by Massimo Bordi (with the aim of trying to recover the style and touch of the classical two-cylinder Ducati bikes) and previously used by the Ducati 900SS from 1988, featured 904 cc, 82 h.p, two valves per cylinder, six speed gearbox, bore x stroke of 92 x 68 mm and a preservation of the same kind of sumps as the Ottovalvole Ducati 851 and Ducati 888, 

whose multidisc dry clutch is indetical to the one boasted by the Ducati Monster M900.

- A 900 cc L-Twin two-valve air-cooled classic Desmodue engine boasting desmodromic distribution, twin carburettors and great personality.

- Cost efficient cycle parts.

- Inverted forks.

- Top quality Brembo brakes.

- Gorgeous powerplant sound.

- Simple ergonomics and a flat handlebar.

- Outstanding versatility as an all around performer with seamless adaptation to city riding thanks to its low height and a simultaneous ability for good handling on roads.

This way, the Ducati Monster M900, first offspring of this breakthrough concept bike with far-reaching influence on the photographic market, was born and presented for the first time at the October 1992 IFMA Cologne Motorcycle Show, subsequently being launched into market in 1993.

Ducati Monster S2R. Manufactured between 2004 and 2008, it features a four-stroke 803 cc air-cooled two-cylinder desmodromic L-Twin engine delivering 77 hp at 8,500 rpm, with two valves per cylinder, bore x stroke of 88 x 66 mm, six-speed gearbox, multidisc wet clutch and Magneti Marelli electronic fuel injection. As has always been the hallmark of every member of the Monster lineage, it has loads of torque, posh style and design. It´s highly reliable and easy to handle, becoming  a stellar performer on roads with bends, particularly in mountainous areas, in addition to being very good for riding inside cities. 

Another Ducati Monster S2R with Tricolore design under the powerplant. A very beautiful bike with amazing performance on cornering and in urban contexts with a lot of traffic, as well as featuring details like the aluminium swingarm and the raised exhausts. It´s very light (with a dry weight of 173 kg) and its 803 cc engine boasts a great bottom-end torque turning it into a superb all-around street machine, with the added bonus of a wide handlebar and very good sit-up ergonomics.

From the very beginning, the sales success of the Ducati Monster family keynote was so big that it has kept on fully prevailing throughout the 25 years elapsed between 1993 and 2017, with a huge expansion that has spawned the manufacturing of a comprehensive range of 37 different models of which more than 300,000 units have been sold all over the world hitherto, particularly standing out the Monster 600 (1994-2001), Monster 750 (1996-2002), Monster 600 Dark, Monster 900 Cromo from 1999, Monster 900S from 1998, Monster 900 i.e (with electronic fuel injection) from 2000, Monster S4 916 cc from 2001, Monster S4 Foggy, Monster 620 IE (with electronic fuel injection) from 2002, Monster 1000 with Dual Spark Engine from 2002, Monster 800 from 2003, Monster S4R 996 cc from 2004, Monster S2R with 800 cc Desmodue engine from 2005,  Monster S4R Testastretta 998 cc, Monster 695 from 2007, air-cooled Monster 696 (2008-2014, with major mechanical changes, particularly a likewise multibular steel frame but featuring a different design and a new engine), Monster 796 (2010-2013), Monster 821 from 2014 and the air-cooled Monster 1100 Evo and Monster 1100S from 2009, Monster 797 and others, without forgetting a wide choice of customized Monsters having been built taking different types of Ducati Monsters as reference, like the fabulous Ducati Monster 900 Valvoloni Cafe Racer Special based on the Ducati Monster M900 from 1993.

As a matter of fact, the Italian motorcycling company offers currently a comprehensive variety of Ducati Monster models with powers and performances encompassing practically every necessity and rider profile, from the 73 CV of the Ducati Monster 797 to the 160 CV of the Ducati Monster 1200 R with Testastretta L-Twin 11º DS 1,198 cc engine.

Ducati Monster 1200 R in the classic red colour of the Borgo Panigale firm, one of the evolutive peaks of the species, featuring also red Ducati multitubular steel Trellis frame attached to the cylinder head. A real dream machine being very loyal to Monster philosophy and in which a substantial revamp and overall improvement of design, frame, engine and electronics has been fulfilled, getting a formidable enhancement of the performance and a greater comfort of use (already excellent in every Ducati Monster model manufactured since 1993).

Its liquid-cooled two-cylinder desmodromic Testastretta L-Twin 11º DS " R " engine boasting eight valves (four per cylinder), 1,198 cc,  160 h.p at 9250 rpm, six-speed gearbox, bore x stroke of 106 x 67.9 mm, Dual Spark, which has likewise been updated in all significant sides, makes the Ducati Monster 1200 R outstandingly powerful and with a formidable torque of 131,4 Nm 13.4 kgf-m/97 lb-ft at 7,750 rpm that makes up a seminal technological accomplishment in itself, since the performance is incredibly uniform and constant from the lowest rpm ranges, enabling the pilot to relish a unique riding experience (both within cities — where the convenience is utmost — and in sporting use) defined by an unutterable flat torque curve allowing to enjoy the bike for many kilometers without continuous changes of gears.

On the other hand, this extraordinary engine boasted by the Ducati Monster 1200 R is a result of a state-of-the-art engineering whose goal was from scratch to achieve the utter integration of the powerplant as a structural item of the frame, something that has been attained, in the same way as an amazing torque, thanks to a highly praiseworthy adjustment of the air intake and the exhaust system (both of them being specific and generating a power comparable to four-cylinder engines) in symbiosis with a new throttle body and a compression ratio raised to 13:1 which make possible an exceptional torque at medium and low revs, even at the slowest speeds.

To get an idea of what this entails, suffice it to say that the rider of a Ducati Monster 1200 R or 1200S has already available more than 85% of the torque at 4,500 rpm, it being complemented by a superb management of the engine power delivery through a Lambda probe for each one of the collectors, as well as assuring an accurate fuel feeding.

If all of that were not enough, an electronically driven exhaust valve optimizes the performance throughout the whole range of revolutions.

If we add to it the Ride-By-Wire engine control system providing a perfect power response and optimization of the bike behaviour according to the Riding Mode selected (with three mapping choices: sporting driving — 145 h.p — , touring driving — 145 h.p — and driving inside cities — 100 h.p ) by means of its very advanced electronic interface between throttle grip and engine, an anti-wheelie wet clutch and a great feeling of lightness in the handle, ideal for urban traffic and long distances alike, this bike is probably a vivid example of redefinition of the cheap and expensive concepts, because a machine like this boasting so high performance, featuring the most advanced mechanical and electronic technology and with a powerplant being the world benchmark in its scope, has inevitably a high price, but if we bear in mind everything that it offers and the incomparable riding experiences it enables, not only linked to the formidable performance inherent to the desmodromic system of valves train distribution, but also to its extraordinary torque and impressive easines and comfort of driving, its price doesn´t seem to be exorbitant whatsoever.

Two qualified mechanics of Ducati technical service making the overhaul and tuning of a Ducati Monster S4RS FROM 2007 featuring a liquid-cooled desmodromic V-Twin 129 hp at 9,500 rpm engine with eight valves (4 per cylinder), which meant along with the S4 (2001) and S4R (2003) models a major qualitative leap in power increase and equipment improvement of the Monster saga throughout the first decade of XXI Century, with powerplants and outfit coming from the formidable 916/996/998 Ducati trio, which turned the Monsters into full-fledged sporting bikes lacking fairing.

Ducati´s technological excellence and knowledge in motorcycling mechanics and electronics at their highest level are impresive, as happens with the in-depth studies on aerodynamics carried out in every bike design made by the Borgo Panigale firm.

It´s first and foremost the faithfulness to the tradition of the desmodromic system of distribution (controlling the opening and closing of valves) in which camshafts play a key role and which is nowadays only used by Ducati (with an accrued expertise of more than fifty years throughout which the engineers, technicians and mechanics of the Italian motorcycling company have managed to improve it once and again), whose configuration and tuning is very complex but provides fairly significant advantages not only when it comes to reach an exceedingly high and unmatched figure of rpm with full control, very high speeds and tremendous acceleration power, but also in the reduction of frictions in the lowest rpm ranges and a phenomenal torque practically encompassing the whole spectrum of revolutions per minute, from the slowest speeds to the fastest ones.

Ducati Monster 796 advancing in the middle of the night.

Featuring an air-cooled desmodromic two-cylinder V-Twin 803 cc and 87 h.p engine with two valves per cylinder, maximum torque of 78 Nm at 6250 rpm, 6-speed gearbox, hydraulically driven multidisc ATPC wet clutch and chain transmission, the Ducati 796 Monster is a bike boasting great beauty of lines and has always stood out because of its remarkably versatile using capabilities, as a result of its highly efficient symbiosis between excellent overall balance and a powerplant delivering very good performance.

It´s very light and handeable inside cities (easily avoiding cars and traffic jams), extraordinary to indulge oneself riding on roads with bends (including the mountainous ones, where its qualities are simply exceptional), acceptable for use in circuits, and in spite of lacking any protection against wind, it has proved well its aptitude to make trips.

Impressive customized Ducati Monster 796 ABS belonging to the world-class collection of Mario De Witte.

Therefore, the Ducati Monster 796 embodies more than any other model of the breed the concept of  " all around performer ", a model enabling great satisfactions in virtually all kind of environments, both urban and road ones, and bearing in its DNA the unmistakable sound of the Ducati L-Twin engines sporting 4 valves (2 per cylinder), whose listening is a real treat for any lover of motorcycling.

Evidently, it is not a cum laude machine in any aspect, but it oozes an outstanding constructive level with top-notch materials, exceedingly beautiful design, is very reliable and does adapt very well to a slew of different riding contexts, something highly commendable, since it isn´t a specialized bike at all, in addition to the advantage of having been designed by the Borgo Panigale (Bolonia) firm in such a way that it only needs maintenance every 12,000 km.

Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza