brandan gomez – things that never happened

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Brandan Gomez

Things That Never Happened

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These are the images of what never happened, but should have. They express what really moves the world: desires, deep desires that start forming in your early years, and crystallize inside your chest when you begin to understand the world that surrounds you. Because what never happened is not real, it has never been photographed- because it doesn’t exist. It has just emerged from the collective subconscious into a medium format black and white negative.

So the author is lucky to have received these images.

It all happened in a very small coastal village in the North of Portugal called Costa Nova. This place has special light because it has the Atlantic Ocean on the west and a water channel on the east. The piece of land is five kilometers long and two hundred meters wide. There is always some mist floating in the air and water acts like a mirror; light reflects in every object and somehow blinds you enough to see what has never happened.

The essay will grow with the chance to return to Costa Nova and see the light again.


Brandán Gómez is a photographer. He is based in Santiago de Compostela, a religious pilgrimage center in the north west of Spain. He has also worked in Madrid and Torino. The first approach into photography was before he can remember, watching his father work in the family black and white lab as a very small child.

He has been producing photographs for more than ten years, although he has made his living directing others for advertising projects. As a photographer he has made several collective exhibitions. His work has been published in regional magazines and specialized online media.

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Brandan Gomez

53 Responses to “brandan gomez – things that never happened”

  • I did not see any of this because it did not happen, so how could I see it? Therefore, I can make no critique of it, because how can I critique what did not happen and is not there to see? I sure did enjoy not looking at what was not there, though, especially photo # 2. Methinks that one told your whole story, right there.

    How many dreams just like that, have I had?

    Well, not just like it, because I was never a woman in these dreams and there were no branches tied to my arms, but my arms were flying me, just the same.

    Oh, I just thought of one critque to give you and it is very harsh.

    I saw no cat, because no cat happened here, but surely, a cat should have.

  • Hi frostfrog. I am starting to think that you didn’t like the text.

  • Ahha !! something about photography not photographs……………….. grin

  • …….one can almost smell the cat piss on Frosty Frogs shoe

  • Photographs of imagination. I really like this. It brings a complete new angle into vision and thinking about what we perceive and how we perceive things. Something I can let myself go and only look.
    Thanks for showing here.

  • My first impression was to wonder how better the Burning Man Festival would be if it was held by a body of water.

    The idea of releasing the imagination works here, maybe because I have a connection to the idea of dreams in bright light. “The Key to the Universe” is especially effective – it is at once ephemeral, and reality based due to its compositional strength. The funny thing is, normally I don’t go for these types of poetically inspired images; I consider them to be mostly incomplete, half-haiku failures. But combined in an essay, they portray a full story – the presentation is wonderful. Bravo!

  • Hard for me to express why I like this essay… but I do. I’ll just go with Jeff’s expression… that works for me.

    Also, Jeff:

    “My first impression was to wonder how better the Burning Man Festival would be if it was held by a body of water.”

    Better, yes. More drownings, for sure. ;^}

  • Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Poor little dragonfly. Nice little essay.

  • 1, 2, 8, 9.. would love to see them bigger, ideally printed, not necessarily framed..

  • I’m on my mobile can’t see essay…however I vividly remember clicking on Brandan’s link the when he commented on ”The last mine” and being blown away by such increadible imagery…so I can’t wait to watch the essay.

  • I agree with Jamie about the essay. Not so much with Jeff though about Burning Man. BM would be something else entirely without the suffering that comes from the heat and dust storms. More pleasurable by the water, yes. Better, I doubt it.

  • Brandan –
    really enjoyed this little flight with you and your essay! And that closing image! The choice between being obscured by clouds and just being the cloud… Congrats!

  • Yea it is nice when stuff ends in a cliché ……. shifts the balance.

  • There are some wonderfully dreamlike images here!

  • #1
    I think your text could be stronger…
    or maybe incomplete thoughts was your intent?

  • Hello:
    Thanks everyone for watching this work, it is very nice to have exposition and feedback from all of you.
    I must say that the dragonfly was already dead when i found it.
    Wendy I agree I am not good at writing.

    Thanks again to all of you and Burnmagazine.

  • Ricardo Vasconcelos

    Hello Brandon,

    This series of photographs are really interesting, both the title and the images are challenging to thought. I saw it twice without reading the text and it seemed familiar to me. I thought it was just nonsense from my unconscious; on the other hand it takes me to the nostalgia of childhood, a kind of deja vu effect of your images projected in my mind. However the truth is that after reading the text i realized that they were made just a few miles from where i was born and where i photographed during my childhood.
    The light of which you speak, I know his intensity and his shadow, however most do not make the slightest idea of what you mean.

    The pier on photo nº 3 was used to smoke cigarettes and read poetry, always bathed in bright light and the very cold shade caused by it.
    My opinion is biased when i say that i identify with the series. After all, in your photographic view are my roots and my personal identity.

    I think the text could be better Brandon. As it is doesn’t make justice to the photographs. I think it could be deeper, not just for the location – in fact, that’s not the idea of the series – but in order to argue why this title and the relation with the light that you witnessed.

    I will keep an eye on your work. Congratulations for the series.

    Ricardo Vasconcelos, PT

    Costa Nova is a small fishing village that doesn’t appear on most maps.
    The village belongs to the district of Aveiro, easily identifiable on any map.

  • amazing what some people will do to get on television…

  • Brandon – you had fun with your words and I had fun with your words. That’s all. No offense intended.

  • Bravo bravisimo Brandan!! me encanta!

  • some of the images remind me of Roger Ballen’s work.
    saludos Brandan

  • “As trees fall I fall and falling fall as the leaves and shadows fall soft and slow and I hear them weeping and talking to me and dont answer as I fall because if i answered what would i say but that i’m sinking as my father and my mother and my husband sank before me becoming suddenly still and as white as the light in this house so white that over the white furniture the mirrors return their silence and tears and tomorrow they’ll rise up with me and with no words but the priest’s they’ll turn my face toward the sun.”–antonio lobo antunes, ‘the natural order of things’ (A Ordem Natural das Coisas)

    For me, it is impossible to spend any time whatsover in Portugal without being haunted…haunted by the ocean’s memory and the lapses from their lapping they induce…haunted by broken roots of the land, snarled and pulpy like Odyyseus’ lined-countenance, haunted by sky and song and stories that seem to wing their way out of any and all cracks you find along the villages and towns of portugal, if not a dream-scape than at least a place melancólico com o beijo eo hálito de tristeza……

    The first photograph stopped me cold…not only because of it’s aqueous, dream-like beauty, because for a moment i thought ‘holy fuck, that is a moment from one of my own dreams’…..a cross between Oshima’s ‘man who left his will on film’ and moriyama’s ‘memories of a dog’…..the same with the gorgeous living dragonfly with the sneakers (Icarus’ beloved, who’d escaped free from her own Dadelus), to the wonderful winks for both Magritte and my beloved band The Residents

    and that wasp, hanging from the silken yarn of a spider’s lair, just made me sick with envy…’s both lyrical and light in its fragility while being horrific and nightmarish…and that is a pretty tough combo to pull off….

    Above all what i like and cherish about this short essay is that it unapologetically mines not only a certain maternal sensibility it its iconography but also suggests just how fecund photography is: there is so much more to the craft than simply capturing ‘reality’, but in fact, like any great form of expression, photography allows us to mine not only the surrounding world and our relationship in it, but also our internal sensibilities and language as well….

    a watery, humor/terror filled dream sequence…that wishes not to explain but rather to evoke

    and by the way, what did NOT happen is always as important as what DID happen, because, like the whole in the center of the wheel because of which the tire is able to move, what was not gave birth to that which was……

    or some such shit ;)…

    haiku, yes….water yes….

    a lit, alight, along…

    congratulations on a lyrical story…and one that, at least for me, provided relief from the rest of the shit that goes on and around…

    big contratulations! :))


  • Awesome! …loved it!…hmm..very sexy (first opening photo)…ethereal the rest…yes , it felt like a magic flight…it brought me K.Lee in mind…!!!..nice, loves it fo sho;)

  • I am loving all of your responses, all of them. I am learning as I read every critique.
    Big sincere thanks to Ricardo and Bob, your texts are so beautiful, they have made me stop and think.
    Ramón, me ha encantado tu curro para el Primavera Sound!

    Best. Brandán.

  • This essay is an interesting concept, but an abuse of photography. Photos are too literal, too immediate (as am I). You can’t photograph what isn’t there. A painter can create a world from whole cloth. A photographer cannot. We can create symbols, use our devices to distort reality, draw emotions from viewers, but we always have to start with something.

    I understand the longing, though. I have a long running project to find a way to capture what remains of people in a place once they are gone from it. But I’ve never succeeded. It always devolves into mere symbols.

    There are some interesting photos in this essay. The title is unfortunate, though.

  • Very interesting points there jim.
    I believe that the ‘essence’ of someone is not ‘in’ the space they used to inhabit; rather it is in the way they themselves ‘experienced’ that place. How can you photograph that? Prose/poetry would seem a far better tool.
    As you say, we can create symbols. But they are usually a poor substitute. especially in the stand alone world of the photographic frame.
    Motion pictures do this much better, but motion pictures have a vast array of supporting visual/aural material at their disposal to paint the picture in our minds.

  • jim/john:

    well, that is ‘true’ and a very interesting and important part of the thought of photography reasoned thought….and i almost am myself saying ‘i sort of agree with jim’ on the idea….but certainly not with the notion of ‘abuse’ for god sake….by the way EVERYTHING we photograph and EVERY photograph is a symbol…they are signs, abstractions, representations that we decode…simple semiotics, only photographs do often ‘fool’ people because of their appearance to reality, or rather, that they are composed of processed segments of what ‘was there’….

    and john, for sure about how people ‘experience’ place…but place carries things unseen and we reflect those places we inhabit, if not by scent alone….

    but what about this:

    moriyama: symbol?….or something else….

  • or how about this….from the book i was just given yesterday for our wedding anniversary….

    Mikhailov’s Yesterday’s Sandwich

    photography can photograph was was NEVER there (this is the entire idea behind Yesterday’s Sandwhich) by simply composing ‘real’ moments together to great the unreal….which of course becomes Real as a photograph :))))

  • My point bob was that I cannot visit a space where YOU were once present and CAPTURE that SPIRIT of YOU.
    I can only use introduced symbology, or photographic treatment to produce an analog.

    Say that you and I both frequented the same field somewhere, with the same mournfull clouds and obligatory dead tree. We were never there at the same time, never knew any other ever visited it and we both claimed its muse as our own.
    I could not recreate YOU in that space any more than you could recreate the spirit of me there.
    At best we could use knowledge of person and symbolic metaphor to create an ‘impression’

  • And yet MY photographs of that place would be indelibly stained with ME, because I alone own my experience of it……and yours would be the same too.

  • John :))

    now THAT, i agree with COMPLETELY! :)))…and that is why i have never just ‘documentary’ work (in the sense of objectivity) or PJ work…and always believe in the Personal expression of place, not as universal, but as singularly particular…and yet, that magical, fucked up thing about the particular is sometimes, it seeps toward the universal…and THAT is the beauty…and the frustration of potography…or language…or, the epistemological fucked-up-ed-ness of living….of being ;P))…

    then again, as you know, both of us in our own way strive for the personal as personal expressions….;)))

    i’m with u all the way on that…

    that’s the sould of Loomings: the unreal particular as a way to describe the internal from the land….

    gotta fly young man :))


  • i meant, oooops, snow today, that i don’t ‘trust’ documentary work, when it is offered as somekind of universal or ‘witnessing’, but rather the indellible expression of someone who experienced a place/moment/time/person and tried to scribble about that with pictures :))))!/photo.php?fbid=1897409324939&set=a.1224195175006.2035091.1532803997&theater


  • Jim, John, Bob:

    You’re presenting three different interpretations to a very interesting and difficult problem – creating a photographic solution to an abstraction. I’m favouring the ambition of Gomez here; his images works in relation to one another, and for me work only because of that interplay. Alone, they are as foreign and queer as Moriyama’s work is to me (which interestingly maintains my interest only because, angrily, I don’t get what it is others are fascinated by!), but Brendan stays within the confines of photographic restrictions, and uses dynamic associations to make his essay work. Compare that to Bob’s Mikhailov insertion, where a photograph is used merely as a starting point for collage work – craquelure on a print???? – and becomes a quick cheat to solve the abstract problem. There is a very good reason Imants told me, under “Painter”, that he isn’t a photographer. At least Gomez is making the attempt – and succeeding too – to find an elegant solution to a messy problem.

  • abstract …………. is there a problem? ……. unless one finds a need to play within some inane set photographic criteria, then it isn’t about photography after all.

  • Jeff:

    this must be quick…my discourse is not (never is) about solutions…in fact, there are none…i’m just saying there there are NO BOUNDARIES at all (something i’ve argued about a ton here already, especially with Jim and others)…photgraphy is a vehicle, a device, a language,…and is open to all and open to all approaches…it never resolves anything…simply expresses….there are no solutions to quandries, just stabs in the dark…

    for me, i liked this essay alot…

    simply stating that photography is even more flexible than ourselves…

    gotta fly…

    no criteria, no limits, but what bounds the individual’s thoughts/ideas and express..

    go for broke, is my belief :))


  • I agree with your premise…and conclusion. But it is the restrictions of criteria, the bondage, that sometimes and someways frees the imagination. To wit: the Impressionists responded to photography with colour and atmospherics within the similar boundaries of width and length. Result: a new way to see thru paint. Later, Picasso began to slap onto canvas foreign signage (non-paint) to begin his exploration of collage. But then Braque-the-house-painter showed Pablo faux finishing tricks – think wood-grain – and Picasso removed the collage, and substituted paint for paper. Going backward within limits opened new doors. Collage with pigment only…cool!

    I’m not saying the restrictions are better, just different. For some inane, but not always for all.

  • Yes Bob – a big umbrella under which to float our respected/respective boats.

    Happy anniversary!

  • mmmmmmm…
    interesting thoughts
    for yet another day of rain…….
    as seen

  • Jim: The title is about the process of making and watching, in fact what you see in a picture has never happened, because the way you are seeing it is modifiying what is (suposed to be) represented. So for me the title is correct, not the text that comes with it, about that I am sure.

  • Jeff the impressionists responded to light and followed the footsteps of the “en plein air” exponents like Bonnington , Constable etc not photography. It was about painting outdoors and not within the confines of a studio. The cubists responded to the times their journey was not of a restrictive nature

  • Modernity and modernism was about innovation and departure from the restrictions of tradition.

  • “This essay is an interesting concept, but an abuse of photography.”

    Oh, god, Jim! An “abuse” of photography?

    How the hell does one abuse photography?

    Beat it up, slap it down, molest it?

    Once one starts worrying about if something they want to try might be an abuse of photography, then maybe they won’t try it, because they will not want to be known as an abuser. One experiments with photography – one does not abuse photography.Some things work, some things don’t and if they don’t, it is not abuse. It’s just an experiment that didn’t quite work the way one hoped it might.

    Well, hell.

    I just want to swear.

    So I did.

  • Jim has a certain outlook on what photography is so within that criteria it probably is abuse of the photographic media

  • It was Van Gogh, and in particular Cezanne, who were handed the torch from Constable, and begun the experiment in outdoor colour. But Cezanne also worked from photographs, and partially in protest to that, began to shift the planes of his compositions. When I think of the Impressionists I think of the way photography altered paintings dynamic range (Monet) and also the way nature took on a more relaxed, realistic mannerism (here, Degas’ ballerinas, and racetrack work). Before Muybridge’s series, painters didn’t know how to depict a galloping horse!

    The work of the cubists – Picasso and Braque in the beginning – was initiated simultaneously by their work in collage, and oddly Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Cubism was a way to interpret the malleability of time. It’s a perfect example of how the restrictions of the paint medium was re-worked (for the times, yes) using imagination to solve new queries.

  • All of this tooing and froing with these schools, at those particular times, just shows the fluidity of the artistic process, which is why I agree with Bob and you to a very large extent. A little point – Samuel Morse was also a painter, and has a painting at the Louvre. Does that make him the world’s first Pointillist? ;)

  • Or the world’s first .–. — .. -. – .. .-.. .-.. .. … – !

  • There were a lot of individuals involved in the arts of modernity no single person was the innovator or owned a particular genre. Sure some are better known than others as either by accident or sheer innovation rose to the top but artists worked in a collaborative manner just as they do today. Sorry but Van Gogh transcended impressionism. Muybridge had some influence on the futurist and others.
    Photography was black and white in the days of the impressionists and they were not about tonal graduations they were about colour and light which was a direct contrast to the realists that preceded them.

    Don’t confuse materials and techniques is artistic intent.

  • Now you throw unrelated thoughts into the mix, as if they were so many spades with which to dig different holes, or at least to dig this one either deeper or wider. My original point of departure was specifically to Bob’s introduction of Mikhailov’s collage, whose pictoral representation of imagination is a sensible solution. But Brandan chooses a more restrictive approach, which I think succeeds. And I’ll prefer his making optimal use of available resources to Mikhailov’s, only because the restrictions inherent require – ironically – a greater imagination.

  • I really enjoyed this essay and found it refreshing after seeing so many rebels last week :). Photo nº2 has been ringing bells in my mind for the last 24 hours and I’ve been trying to recall what it reminded me of. Suddenly I remembered seeing Robert ParkeHarrison’s work a few years and these are the images which sort of remind me of your work…

    Although I find your work so much more lyrical and less contrived although you both have that sense of the impossible which all dreams conjure. Apart from the fact that your’s is so much more cheerful and it’s good to see an essay which isn’t brooding with darkness! . I would point out the dragonfly in the yoghurt pot image as one of my favourites and the same goes for the flowers in the plug boxes which I feel is a novel idea. Well I’ll certainly keep an eye on website from now on.

  • Thanks Paul, those photographs from Parkeharrison remind me that is quite difficult to create something completely new. I created the images representing desires of some things I would love to happen, such as men flying. A man with wings is not new. Maybe the big difference between my images and Parkeharrison is that they are representing dreams. Thanks for the imput.

  • Brandan…
    If you do learn how to fly don’t forget to tell us round here, in fact it’s easy to teach me we live in the same country…have you ever seen the magical light here in Mallorca?
    Anyway I don’t think we should ever attempt to search for the ”new” it really doesn’t exist. Yes your’s represent dreams and P’s represent nightmares and I’m tired of other’s sharing their nightmares!!
    Would agree with me that Spain visually is still very undocumented, unlike the US which has a very strong visual signature, easy to recognise with only a glance and very difficult to escape from. Oh and of course Portugal I’m sure is pretty uncharted territory this all can help to create fresher looking images.

  • I lost this essay when it was presented and only saw it today. It’s excellent, a sense of something suspended between dreams and clouds, a not real world where we all have been maybe a long time ago and we forgot it.

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