We Were Born Before the Wind is the first monograph of Portuguese photographer Henri Prestes. Images of his hometown portray the artist’s roaming in the dark through small villages, mountains, and desolate fields in winter. Highlighted by dim and cinematic aesthetics, Prestes escapes the concreteness of the place and instead, presents us with atmospheric mental images.
Divided into three thematic chapters – journey, deep of night, and land – one not only gets a glimpse into the artist’s way of thinking but is also immediately immersed into Prestes’ mysterious world. His photographs always contain the ominous mist where all the subjects are either facing us backwards or they are gazing somewhere far in the distance. In this way, imagination is instantly triggered as we begin to understand that there is something existing beyond the image, and that beyond is defined by the very spectator. Prestes takes us on an ambiguous journey into the deepest corners of our minds…
Dark as they might seem at first sight, Prestes’ photographs are ominous, yet peaceful. As the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley states in A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays (1821), “a poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.” This quote seems to be the perfect metaphor for the way Prestes approaches the medium. His images are poetically suberged in melancholia and longing while his use of the colour pallette is vibrant and powerful as is the song of the nightingale.
There is a tension felt from his photographs as people appear only individually; they are portrayed in motion and in an anonymous way. They come closer to apparitions than to human beings. The apparent absence of people and all-encompassing nocturnal settings insert a deep contemplative quality into Prestes’ oeuvre, making We Were Born Before the Wind a perfect photobook for autumn nights.
is a Portuguese fine art photographer based in southern Europe. His work captures cinematic moments and explores narratives of solitude and melancholy. In 2021, he was awarded the Gold Cube Winner of the ADC Awards with his Conceptual Series and the Bronze Cube Winner in 2022 and 2020.
is a London-based photography publisher and bookseller, focusing on both contemporary and rare titles.
We Were Born Before The Wind is available for purchase here.