PHO705: Guest Lecture Paula Gortazar

This guest lecture took place on 2 October 2019.

Paula is from Spain, studied Law while being mentored in street and documentary photography. She travelled to London to study for a certificate at Central Saint Martins, then she studied her MA at the University of Westminster. She now lectures and is researching for her PhD.

Until taking up academic studies, her work did not have a subject specialism, but it does now.

She described her projects and these have found success.

Free Hope

Homes of political activists in Cuba. The spaces were photographed and pictures published alongside an outtake from the associated interview.

Common Space

When Europe was going through a massive recession, day to day decisions were being made in the European Parliament buildings by faceless people. The work photographs the office spaces where these people operate.

As the furniture of a futuristic style was featured the aluminium prints were made at different sizes to keep the furniture to scale in the photographs. creating a kind of typology.

The work was also published in a newspaper format. This made sense as most people would only be aware of the European Parliament from the newspapers or television.

The newspaper added context around the location of the buildings photographed. Installation shots were made that show the newspaper being read.

Winter Holidays 2011-2013

In Andora in the Pyrenees, there is a transformation being made to a winter holiday resort. The project photographs the human intrusions built into the natural landscape. These are sometimes brutal and generally, look out of place and especially so in the summer.

Alto al Miedo (Ceasefear)

A project photographed in the aftermath of the ETA ceasefire in the Basque region. A thousand people died and there was extortion of small businesses.

The project photographed graphic still life scenes of seafood brutalised in different ways as a metaphor for what had gone on.

Helena 2013

Helena is a muse from Greek literature. She was written about by a man and desired by men who would go crazy over her. The project gave voice to Helena and alls here to respond in an evocative conceptual work.

The Rope 2014

This was the most personal project and most poetic. It is of fragile family memories and the photographs which hide identity, are left unexplained.

Followers Work in Progress 2017

The Followers project uses archive photographs from the Czech secret police archives detailing who a person met, where and what time. There was a style of photography where the camera was not put to the eye. There is a striking similarity to social media profiles where we now give away the information for free so it can be used by the authorities as and when they need to. The work uses 35mm film photography with pictures taken in the secret service style, in the same places but of people photographing themselves on smartphone or tablet.

#Advice

Think about aluminium prints as a publication method.

After the MA the photographer became very busy making numerous projects but has had to slow down during her PhD.

Make interview recordings and include excerpts alongside an exhibition.

When making is Work in Progress, the photographer had already gone public and had the completed work lined up for a group exhibition in May 2020. Being active so is a way of taking an idea to completion.

The following statements are recorded as thinking points rather than being prescriptive advice.

There is a consistent visual language, for work made across a range of different subjects.

For Caterina (our host), during her studies, there was a need to create a consistent visual language as if that was important.

The work evolved organically from Pure Documentary to Conceptual, to Pure Conceptual,