Literally translated as ‘exchange of glances’, Alfonso’s project aims to use photography as a means of social inclusion; a relationship which he learnt from his own involvement in the similar ph15 project, which began in 2000. In Cruce de Miradas’ own words they “seek to recover the identity and socio/cultural development of our young people in vulnerable situations. The project aims and believes in art as a means of social inclusion.”
From what I saw of the day the project has developed well since it started in April and looks set to repeat the success of ph15.
I was amazed at the cardboard boxes that were each kids’ own ‘camera’. Made in sessions over a couple of weeks each kid was allowed to express their personality and also have something which was theirs. The affection felt towards them was clear, one girl even kissed hers goodbye before she put it back in its place.
The project is evidently of great importance to these kids; from the excitement when we had to turn off the lights to create the dark room to the strict entrance policy some of the kids enforced with their peers over entrance to the classroom. Atheneas, the project’s youngest student, was patiently waiting for us when we arrived. Enthusiastic and smiling for the entire session when asked if she liked the classes, her grin spread from ear to ear.
So what is it about photography that just seems to click with these kids? “There are so many things to learn with photography. Colours, forms and dimensions” Alfonso explained to me. It seems once you start learning, you just can not stop.
It also helps to provide opportunities, some that you probably were not aware were open to you, a key part of the founding ideology of the project. Alfonso said to me that “you live in a small world with your job and all of that. Photography expands this world.” Indeed one of the first lessons of the project was teaching the children that you don’t need a fancy camera or modern technology to be a photographer. Some of the photos which were produced truly do emphasise this point.
Of course to set-up and maintain this sort of project isn’t easy. The effect of ph15 in inspiring and giving Alfonso the confidence to go with the project is evident. However, what is the biggest challenge facing Cruce de Miradas? “We have the same problems as the rest of the world – money” he replied. It’s the simple things that they would like and need funding for. You won’t see the ‘admin costs’ of bigger charities featuring with this organisation. A perfect example is their Facebook page. It currently has a post asking ‘if you have a camera you no longer use in your drawer, in your closet, in your garage, donate it to Cruce de Miradas.’
And really that is the great point about Cruce de Miradas, its simple. Alfonso, and fellow teacher in Barrio sol y verde, Matias Miranda, have huge amounts of knowledge and passion. They are helped by organisations such as Camino Solidario, an independent organisation in Moreno which runs the centre which the classes are held in. It also provides children in the barrio with breakfast and dinner everyday. Finally, they have the kids who want to learn, who want to take photos and are genuinely starting to develop a real passion for the art.