– How would you define Ibiza Blanco Desnudo?
It is the exploration of a myth, the Ibiza present in our collective memory, is a dream willed into existence. It’s my personal quest in search of an island located in the world of legends, somewhere between fiction and reality, between my mind and the world. Thus the resulted photographs flow smoothly and fluidly between the staged and the spontaneous and unpredictable. They put doubts in our minds making us see Ibiza in a more suggestive and evocative way than factual.
It is an Ibiza of crystal clear water, secluded coves, white houses scattered in an idyllic countryside and a careless lifestyle. A proposal that idyllic places and, in a larger sense, the potential for happiness, can and do exist. It’s an island untouched by mass tourism in the hope to raise awareness about its side effects. But this is not a work of heated, literal protest, but a work of indirect and metaphorical reflexion. If seeing is believing, I hope people could believe that a different Ibiza is possible.
– How did Ibiza Naked White take shape?
Ibiza Gran Hotel was looking for something special for their 1oth anniversary, and I had this first photography material dating back to 2008 that the loved. So ut was a great opportunity to put out this work. As all of my photographic essays it took a long time, four years, with direct and constant contact with the depicted object, with whom I interact closely, thus allowing me to intervene on the scene from an informed point of view.
The result is images that invite contemplation so that we can abandon ourselves to the flow of associations of ideas that these images raise.
– Is this project a documentation of what remains of that Ibiza myth today?
Absolutely not, it’s an invitation into my world, it’s like a dream. The good thing about dreams is that they do not have to, make sense. Therefore I have no interest in describing or documenting a reality, I do not consider myself a documentary photographer. Of course, my photos show places and people, but documenting them is only a side effect.
Actually, the photographs are between the staged and the spontaneous. I pick a person, a location, an activity and an outfit, but I encourage models to give their own input, it’s an exchange. So, although the images begin as something staged, the result is not premeditated. Nor are my models paid professionals to produce a simulacrum of something, on the contrary, they are people who have a history that relates them to the island.
– Who are the models in Ibiza Naked White, how do you choose them?
Very carefully. I work with their energy and mine. I do not prepare them because I don’t want them to overdo it. The less I direct the better because poses by definition are limited to the stereotypes we have of how a person should appear in a photo, which always yields a limited result. People are capable of doing unimaginably beautiful things. If I direct models, it’s usually a more conceptual direction, I don’t focus on techniques.
– How much of Juan Barte is in this project?
A photograph always begins with the projection of the photographer in it, so Ibiza Blanco Desnudo, so in that sense, it’s an intimate and personal work. It’s a proposal that idyllic places, and in a broader sense, that the possibility of happiness, can exist and do exists. As the German poet Novalis said, we must romanticize the world to find its original meaning.
Although I must say that these are images open to interpretation, my goal is not to give answers, but perhaps to open a dialogue.
– Could general public, not familiar with Ibiza, be interested in this project?
Absolutely, at the core of all photography, there is desire. When we see an image we do not necessarily see the desire that produced that image, but it is our own desires that are at play. That is why even if we do not know the intention of the photographer, we can fully enjoy that photography. We look at an image and, usually in a subconscious way, we identify with our own desires projected onto it.
A photograph is always open, it’s never completely finished, it requires us to project ourselves into it, to identify ourselves with and in it. Only in that interaction does photography reveal itself, and always in a different way in each one of us. When this happens, when a photo matters enough to someone, it acquires a meaning that is not necessarily implicit in it, but rather that of that person in particular.
– How do you approach your projects? Do you start taking pictures with a vague idea and photographs as you go along, or do you plan all the details before you start photographing?
It’s a balance between the two. If there is too much of the first you may end up with a lot of random and unrelated photos without any concept or red line unifying them. If the balance is tilted in the second you end up with a dry and dull project.
I start with an initial approach, usually with a photobook in mind. I also do a lot of research before and during the project; literature, music, movies…
– Ibiza Naked White in addition to a photobook is an exhibition. What are the differences between laying out photos in the pages of a book or on the walls of a gallery?
In a way, it’s a similar challenge although there are obvious differences such as intimate versus a public experience, dialogue, scale, etc. In a gallery, you can activate the audience’s experience, make them look up to see some clouds for instance. In a book, you can do something more intimate and empathic with the content.
– Why black and white photography?
I try to subtract in order to show the essence of something, because the absence of the information that brings color, helps me to specify the message. Each color brings with it its own personality and therefore causes a digression of the work. But black and white limits things and the more limited things are, the more notorious the become. On the other hand, since black and white id further away from reality helps me to walk that blurry line between fiction and reality that defines most of my work.
– Your models never look straight at the camera?
The subject of my photographs does not monopolize the image with her gaze, thus avoiding direct recognition. When you see directly into the eyes of the image subject, that gaze dominates everything, but when that gaze is not there, the imagination can go further, the audience can stop acknowledge details that are usually relegated by the intensity of the eye gaze.
I like it when the viewer needs to stop at an image so that a dialogue and a complicity can take place.
For this reason, I also photograph fragments, they have an ability to suggest more than to discover, and thus to generate images more open to several interpretations.