From the Faces issue
The spanish artist tells us about her fascination with adolescent figures and her search for authenticity. On the cusp of turning thirty, this multi-talented, literature-loving creative has developed a powerful, poetic, sensitive aesthetic, in which the figure of an adolescent may flirt with an undulating sea, or the smile of Tyler the Creator meets the iconic profile of Fran Lebowitz. A conversation with an artist who specialises in intimacy and joy.
What is it that attracts your attention when you see a face for the first time?
Most of the time, it’s really a feeling. I feel a real connection with the person and that inspires me.
How do you choose your models?
They could be friends, models, creatives, strangers, or celebrities. I want to photograph the subject in the most neutral and authentic way possible in order to capture their uniqueness, their particularities.
What do you think of the tyranny of the “Instagram face” which has drawn criticism from many quarters?
It doesn’t particularly worry me as I am very detached from it. I like to use technology and I’ve worked a lot with artificial intelligence, but I think that the vision that we have of the contemporary face, its aesthetic and its representation, depends on us. I want to see it from the point of view of the creator.
What’s the importance of the Internet and social networks in your work?
When I was younger I was very much involved with them. I grew up in the South of Spain, in a small town, and it was an excellent way of getting close to people. But social networks have changed a lot since then. I find them invasive, time consuming and addictive. I do a lot of things: I paint, I write, I travel, so I try to be mindful of the way I use my time.
You incline in your work towards the young. What attracts you in the figure of the adolescent?
What interests me is this grey zone between two periods of life that can be seen on a face through expressions and also through attitudes. It’s a critical moment in the construction of the self, when you can already see the adult emerging.
Like the Kyoto kids from your last series “Ookini” - which means “thank you” in the dialect of Osaka.
Yes. Last year I spent three months in Kyoto. There, the passage to adulthood is even more interesting because it takes place in one of the oldest cities in Japan, which oscillates between tradition, conformity and modernity.
You’ve taken photos of skaters, students, maiko (geisha apprentices) and also novice monks. What do you wish to say through the contrasting figures of these Kyoto teenagers?
Japanese society has very high expectations of the younger generations. I wanted to see how young people grow up as they are caught between the traditional role imposed on them and the very fast rate of development we see in Japan, particularly in terms of technology: how young people construct their identities between these two extremes. Unlike in the West, the concept of adolescence doesn’t really exist in Japan. You go straight from being a child to being an adult. Childhood is almost like a golden age therefore, because after it you have to assume a lot of responsibilities, pressure and obligations. There’s a certain nostalgia in these faces which I find very touching.
Paradoxically we often don’t know the faces of photographers we admire.
When I was younger, I did a lot of selfportraits. It was an interesting exercise. But now, it’s rarer. I suppose I’m more at ease with myself now, and I find selfies a bit boring. I prefer to be inspired by people other than by myself.