Viana do Bolo, Ourense, 2008. All Images courtesy of the artist.
Luis Díaz Díaz (A Coruña, 1978) is a photographer based in the Rías Baixas region of Galicia. Luis studied photography in Madrid and founded the Spanish international photography blog 30y3. Living in Madrid helped Luis see his homeland with different eyes: “I looked at the territory in a way I hadn't before and became fascinated by different aspects of it,” he says. Since returning to Galicia a few years ago, Luis’ projects explore the land and its history through his own personal lens.
La fertilidad de Tarsila (Tarsila's Fertility), 2015. All images courtesy of the artist.
When I first saw Luis Vassallo’s (Madrid, 1981) work, it took me back to the Menil Collection in Houston. His recent paintings feel like a mix between the museum’s Magrittes and Picassos and its ancient Roman, and Greek artifacts. Luis’s paintings lay out his artistic influences and pay homage to iconic pieces and players from Western art history. But they also do something else. The effect of this melding of art history with design produces work that is familiar, foreign, and fresh all at the same time.
Alberto Feijóo, from Punto Limpio (Clean Spot), 2015. All images courtesy of the artist.
Crushed glass, tile shards, dusty stones, shirtless men, cement blocks, and cut bricks populate Alberto Feijóo’s latest photographic series, Punto Limpio (Clean Spot). These materials are meant for building or destroying; indeed, Alberto imagines his photos as a “construction space.” But the construction site extends beyond the industrial elements in the places he depicts. Alberto’s installations exist somewhere between going up and coming apart, between an archaeological excavation and a construction site. When I arrived to his studio, Alberto told me that everything in his work is about the struggle between love and hate: in terms of photography, art, his life, and himself. Hence Alberto’s fixation on building and destroying.
Claudia Claremi, Junta de Vecinos (Avenida de América 13), 2014. All images courtesy of the artist.
“I see the possibility of doing something, but it has to be close.” For Claudia Claremi (Madrid, 1986), closeness is a physical proximity and a personal space. Her work utilizes a fascinating mixture of methods and materials based on what and who are in her surroundings to investigate themes of shared memory, political systems, and community structures as they intersect with her own personal experience. At the center of Claudia’s practice is her own heart, which is deeply committed to opening art and art making to others. Her work challenges traditional definitions of what art is. Her projects blur the boundaries between physical spaces, history and personal stories, close and far.
Emma Crichton, Cacti Inside, 2013. All images courtesy of the artist.
I met Emma Crichton (Glasgow, 1988) in November when she was visiting Vigo from A Coruña. I was fascinated by her rich photographic work and wanted to know more about her position as a foreign artist working in Galicia, Spain. The following is an interview we conducted recently via email.
All images from the artist's website
I returned to Portugal to speak with Cristina Regadas (Porto, 1977) in her Porto studio. We talked about navigating her personal archive, the photographic impulse, and portraying others. One of Cristina’s studio walls is filled floor-to-ceiling with boxes containing her collected negatives, contact sheets, prints, films, and other photographic materials. The files function as more than documentation; she revisits the archive at least once a week in search of images of specific places, periods, or themes, like white cars or women in kitchens. As she looks for relationships between photographs from the past and those from the present, the images are recategorized, put away, or brought back out. From this continual reexamination process Cristina identifies patterns in her practice and reorients her next steps; the archive is a tool that Cristina uses to generate new work.
FEEDBACKGROUND, Dunja Jankovic in collaboration with Oficina Arara
Oficina Arara is a collaborative, mixed media art and design project founded in Porto, Portugal in 2010. Originally inspired by currents in alternative culture, street art, and anarchist activism in Porto at the time, Oficina Arara’s focus is on political tensions within the city. Oficina Arara has produced books, prints, posters, and other graphic materials, as well as community events, workshops, and performances. Though rooted in Porto’s political life, Oficina Arara’s activities now also encompass an ever-widening network of collaborators from other countries through international exchanges, festivals, and print projects; their mission is to create their Arara “ecosystem” wherever they go. Current Oficina Arara members include Miguel Carneiro, Dayana Lucas, Luís Silva, Bruno Borges, Daniela Duarte, Pedro Nora, and João Alves. I spoke with Miguel and João at Oficina Arara in Porto in late November 2015.
Alejandra Pombo, Wild Palms (screenshot), 2015
I recently spoke with Alejandra Pombo (Santiago de Compostela, 1979) at her studio in the El Ranchito residency program at Matadero Madrid. Alejandra is a filmmaker, writer, and poet based in Madrid and Santiago de Compostela. Alejandra’s latest films incorporate video footage created by the artist with found clips from YouTube, movies, and other public sources. She works alone, and without high tech equipment; her work is “cheap in terms of materials, but expensive in terms of time,” she explains. Rather than working towards a set final product, Alejandra generates while making. Alejandra’s openness to instantaneous expressions and new leads is reflected in her practice, which includes improvised movements, introspective texts, and collaged visuals.
Fernando García’s first encounter with Canada was holding it in his hand: throughout his six month long artist residency there, he collected the nearly 500 gold Canadian dollar coins that make up his new installation Cañaveral, curated by Angel Calvo Ulloa at the Marco Vigo. In the installation, García limits himself to two modes (photography and sculpture) made up of four materials (coins, bamboo, granite, and photographs). The coins and bamboo are materials found abroad while the granite and photographs are taken locally. From this limited palette of disparate elements, García juxtaposes close and faraway, man-made and natural, and valuable and found to form something that is neither and both; indeed, the exhibition's title, “cañaveral,” (“reed bed”) evokes a place inside of and away from the geography of Canada or Galicia.
Cerqueira and Sousa's studio space in a former typographer's shop
Mauro Cerqueira and André Sousa are the founders of Uma certa falta de coerencia / A certain lack of coherence, an artist-run space near Porto's city center. Located on Rúa dos Caldeireiros ("Street of Copper Smiths"), a street formerly known in Porto's history for its craftsmen workshops, both the studio the art space pay tribute to and play with the historical site of creation and work. Through Uma certa falta de coerencia, Cerqueira and Sousa invite participating artists to create site-specific installations that explore, in Sousa's words, "the relation between artists (and) how they produce-think-view-support each other." Much of Uma certa falta de coerencia's dynamism comes from the space's many incarnations of identity through the years - participating artists respond to, with, and against its hidden and forgotten rooms, rough hewn walls, and dusty floors. Due to the Cerqueira and Sousa's travel schedules, exhibitions have slowed down, but their online archive shows the space as a host to a compelling variety of experiments and practices that have helped foment the Porto art community.