Washington, D.C. --- VAIVEN is a new photo exhibition on display at the former Spanish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. It features photography from six Spanish photographers whose work has ties to both the United States and Spain.
SPAIN arts & culture commissioned the photographers for this exhibition which is part of FotoWeek DC. Guillermo Corral, cultural counselor, said the six artists were selected from a group of those who were asked to submit their work. The six chosen, he said, represent a diverse group because they were most personable, visual and impressionable.
Corral said this exhibition is about coming of thought. Speaking with the photographers one gets an appreciation for the incredible photography by hearing their life stories which help put the work into context.
The photographers selected for VAIVEN are:
Xavier Nuez has featured his “alleys and ruins” series. For the past 22 years, Nuez says he has photographed various American cities from coast to coast, as many as 60 of them. He said he “tries to find some of the most rundown corners... just parts of the city that people don’t go into… parts that are left to decay on their own or through vandalism.”
“I first started going to these areas because they offered some kind of solace,” Nuez observed. “They were a way to get away from the city. It started at a time when I was feeling very, very, very stressed and just needed to be alone. Going into these areas became actually very peaceful which was ironic considering that they’re actually very dangerous. So I find my images have duality going through: Very quiet and peaceful images but at the same time recognize these are corridors full of violence and lots of stories in fact.”
“Any city,” Nuez says, “if you dig deep enough you find, you know, dark, dirty corners where people don’t want to go. You know? That’s what I want. I want to go into the most objective corners.”
Nuez, who lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan for three years, said he found Detroit one of the most interesting cities to photograph. “I’ve been through every alley in that city looking for stuff to photograph,” he said. “I’ve been chased by gangs a number of times, surrounded by gangs [and] people point guns at me. Police stop me often,” he added.
With its miles of vacant buildings, “there is no other city in the world like Detroit,” Nuez says.
Monica Lek grew up in a small Spanish town where she says everybody knows each other. She eventually moved to New York City. “I have an idea at 10 years old that I’m going to live in New York,” she said. “And then just like five minutes far away from my home [in New York City] was like all this reality [in] my opinion, you know, I was like: Wow!”
She “just wanted to break out of the bubble and explore the city,” she said. So Lek spent two years working on her photography project: My Neighbors. She said she would “take the subway out of the bubble [and] find [people] who are surrounding her... just finding who was, like, surrounding me, people that were from all the races and ethnics, and they were really interesting. They were really interesting to me,” Lek observed.
She said she developed a need to depict two contrasting ideas, authenticity and artificiality.
“My goal was to transmit an honest reality, with respect to the fake side of society, and to paint a transparent landscape with my eyes… I photographed my neighbors according to my experiences, through the vision of who I am. With these shots I am taking with me the collective memory, a mirror in which society reflects in a continued manner and where I expect to be a voice of communication.”
Javier Corso said his “Soldiers” exhibition features photos of soldiers in the Spanish army. His photographic work, he says, has been inspired by visions of how the U.S. military is portrayed in movies such as "Saving Private Ryan" and general photography. He takes photos of the Spanish army and has a desire to give the force recognition in the same manner received by the U.S. military. He says he did this because the Spanish army – one of the oldest in the world – is not as well known.
Carla Tramullas exhibition is called “Chapter 1.”
“It’s my visual personal world,” she states. She uses her grandfather’s Leica.
Photos from her “Chapter 1” series are an intuitive and subjective visual depiction of her personal experiences in the United States. She says the series establishes an aesthetic exploration of the little things (in size or relevance) that surround her, and it’s based on subtleness, intimacy and emotions.
Ana Hayes-Perez, who lives in Baltimore, features her “Souvenirs of Spain” photo collection. She says her family has been hauling stuffed suitcases between Maryland and Spain for as long as she could remember. Much of her family and roots remain in Spain.
She mentions tourist knick-knacks, bath gel, wheels of cheese, nativity sets, museum brochures, olive oil, etc. among the items they would pack. She says she has difficulty parting with anything from Spain as it becomes precious to her. These items have inspired her exhibition.
“I doubt that the irrational hoarding will ever go away,” she says. “I find a used metro ticket or a button from my abuelita [granny] and I feel the delights of Spain and the love that awaits me there.”
Raul Urbina says his exhibition: “Chicago. I’ll stop the wind from blowing,” features his personal conceptions, sensations, reflections and emotions of the city. This may be something as simple as daylight, eyes of sorrow, or perhaps someone with no particular place to go, he states. He attempts to reveal Chicago’s lesser-known face.
“At this moment that city opens up and completes me to express my feelings to the shuffle of my camera,” he says. “I am not looking for a particular setting or something beautiful. I like my inner feelings getting to show in my camera.”
He considers a photographer’s work much like that of a journalist. “I focus my camera on what I feel will provoke emotions and intelligence of the inspectors in order to marry all these feelings…”
He likes to think of his work as “visual poetry.” He decides to create poetry through what he calls a simple craft -- photography.
The exhibition runs through Nov. 24, 2013 at the former residence of the Ambassador of Spain, 2801 16th Street NW. The gallery is open Thursday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.