Carolina Cruz Guimarey A Coruña, Spain
To try to understand this world I write, but sometimes without words. My work is constructed from found materials: everyday objects and natural elements. These discarded objects, anonymous photographs of unknown little girls and women, old books, gauze, cloth… All these elements, find a new life in my artwork and secret memories come from these objects. My artwork talks about private memories but may also speak to a colective memory of women. But most of all, my work is fragile and talks about fragility. By using very simple techniques I possition my art at a distance from industrial materials, speed and cosumer culture. I assume that everything surrounding us and ourselves are ephemeral and changing in a slow and stopped cicle of life and dead. With my work I try to move slowly, observe what happens around us, assuming our brief life as a part of everything.
Carolina Cruz Guimarey was chosen by photographer Mechi Aliaga Pueyrredon
Laatikkomo’s interview with Carolina Cruz Guimarey, March 21st, 2014.
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
CCG: It’s funny how the easiest questions can sometimes become difficult by making you think about your life. I was born and brought up in Galicia, North-western Spain. My father’s family comes from Southern Spain, which is a completely different cultural background. My grandparents -as many other Galicians at the time- had to migrate to Germany, where my mum was born. Even if I had spent the most of my life in the same place I couldn’t have that feeling of having a home where I belong. Talking about identity and territory is something that really draws my attention these days. I spent a short time in New York recently and also lived for a while in a little French town last year, where I began this work, L’Attente. The idea of trying to understand what is home, where is it and what home means is one of my projects right now.
L: What is your earliest memory of photography?
CCG: I’ve always thought of photographs as magical objects that relate to fantasies about the past. I find fascinating to think that something was happening before and after the photo was taken and the impossibility to know exactly what that was, pushing us to imagine what’s beyond the still frame. A member of my family died before I could really know her and I’ve tried to get to know her by looking at family photos. It’s like those photos were a door to a timeless space that gives you the freedom to build new identities. This relationship with photography got stronger after finding a little box with photos of strangers in a street market. That discovery was the beginning of something and still has a great influence in my artwork today.
L: Although photography in a very broad sense appears regularly in your work, your artistic practice includes more than just photographic techniques. Can photography be replaced with a different technique, or is this medium necessary to the execution of your projects?
CCG: When I choose photographic techniques is because that’s the medium I need to express the idea and it can’t be replaced. My photo projects are often related to actions, usually in the form of portraits accompanied by a performance where I play some role in a defined space. It’s like the result of a secret performance, which involves the space or some kind of objects. In other projects I work with photos that I found and/or natural elements. Each project requires a different technique but, eventually, I tend to use very simple ones. In fact, I feel that technique changes but the discourse remains the same. I only talk about a few things in my artwork, although I’m obsessed with the themes of memory, identity and fragility.
L: Looking at your website, it seems as if each exhibition is situated in a different setting. The setting and work are often intertwined at least on a visual level if not on a conceptual level as well. Which comes first, the space or the project, can you make a new project for a space you have never seen?
CCG: The photo projects are strongly related to the space where the photos were taken. For example, “The attic. Strategies to invoke a ghost” was developed during an art residence. I didn’t know what I would find there, so the project originated from the space itself. I’m also interested in showing the photos in different spaces, not only in galleries but in places that could add something to the photos and be part of them. I love exhibitions in unexpected or unconventional places.
L: Reading the accompanying poem to this particular project :
“To be still. To be extremely still and silent. To be alone, still and silent. Seated. Try the impossible. Again, and again, and again. A motionless action. A secret action. An action of observing the movement that does not seem to exist, a sound that has no sound. Watch, be still. Listen. Start to escape.
This text indicates that there is much more to the project than the images themselves. Are these images a mere documentation of a performance that could otherwise not be experienced by others?
CCG: Yes, it tries to communicate that experience. I took those photos in Marnay-sur-Seine (France) during my art residence. At the time I was feeling lost, I was surrounded by other artists who were working on their own projects and experienced a block. I was also getting worried about what to do next with my life. I was there for six months. The first photo I took was the one that is being exhibited by Laatikkomo in Jyväskylä” and illustrates how I was feeling. I needed both to escape and to stay in that little town forever. I felt like I had to take a decision, to choose between to keep on walking and searching or to stay there and begin a new life. But I realised that both options meant escaping from something. During those six months, I often found myself walking through the fields in the early morning, carrying my chair. I would then sat down and stay quiet, listening, looking, waiting. Just being there, waiting.
L: This is piece is still a “work in progress” but the work already seems to be a kind of meditation, in its personal, introspective, repetitious nature. Are you interested in exploring the art of meditation through your work?
CCG: Yes, indeed. I’ve tried to keep on working on this piece because I realise it’s a way to understand life and our existence. It also involves the issues of nature and environment, obviously. It’s about how we live and how we are related to where we are. I took some new photos for this project in New York and the experience and the results were quite different, which made me understand how important it is where we are to learn how to listen and how to look in a different way. So yes, the process to get this image is some kind of meditation. It’s an attempt to be still, to do things slowly, to focus in the present, to understand how insignificant we are.
L: Could you list 5(or more) words you were thinking about when you made this work?
CCG: Home; Silence; Nature; Loneliness; Time.
Thank you so much Carolina!