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2017/ 248 Spaniards over the age of 105

Francisca-y-Charles

Humanity has waged an endless war against time. Over the ages, we have tirelessly pursued the secrets to immortality. The quest for the Fountain of Eternal Youth led the Spaniard Juan Ponce de León to the very ends of the world. Today, this same obsession with cheating death leads millions of people to search for infallible remedies in the herbal sections of supermarkets and the clinics of homeopaths. Modern society is too obsessed with the idea that we should try to cling to our youth.

Spain is still a bastion of Mediterranean culture, where the whirlwind of the information and communication society manages to coexist with traditional lifestyles in a more or less cordial symbiosis. People still live in close communion with the land in rural zones and there are strong family ties in cities, throwbacks to an age gone by in an increasingly globalized and individualistic world.

This age-old cultural residue, coupled with medical advances available to the entire population, has resulted in a significant increase in the number of Spaniards surpassing the age of 100 since the 1980s, reaching a total of nearly 14,500 in 2016. In 2017, there were 248 Spaniards over the age of 105. ‘Generations’ pays tribute to these so-called “supercentenarians” and their role as vital transmitters of the culture and experience needed to build the future of their descendants.

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…they have had first-hand experience of both the good and the bad that humans are capable of…

Charles&Marchena

In the catalog of the exhibition will find 26 people, living vestiges of Spanish history during the 20th century who now assume a role as privileged spectators in the second decade of the 21st century. Captured in photos by Charles Ragsdale over the course of 2016 together with their youngest descendants, this project seeks to highlight the importance of these men and women as a slice of living history and a touchstone for the Spaniards of tomorrow.

The protagonists of ‘Generations’ have had first-hand experience of both the good and the bad that humans are capable of, as they have lived through wars both within and beyond Spain’s borders. Their eyes have witnessed the revolution of transport and communications, the rise and fall of the century’s great ideologies, the proliferation of numerous inventions and technical innovations in all fields (zips, computers, refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, space shuttles, tractors, ball point pens, lasers…) which are commonplace for all of us now.

The factors underlying their longevity are of varying nature, but it is clear that apart from their optimum genes they also have an authentic philosophy of life characterized by moderate exercise and a balanced diet made up of seasonal products obtained locally.

Perhaps the fountain of youth described by Herodotus and represented by Hieronymus Bosch in his Garden of Earthly Delights, the same image that fuelled the imaginations of the Spanish conquistadors in the Americas, is not so far away after all.