“It is not that I have learnt something about me because of art, is that art has made me who I am.”
Jesús Madriñán (born in 1984) is a contemporary photographer from Spain. In this interview he talks about his project “Boas Noites” in which he records nightlife in rural villages of Galicia. ”
This series portrays youngsters in countryside nightclubs and documents the nature that surrounds these artificial environments”, he says.
For Jesús Madriñán photography is a form to overcome the paradox of capturing life’s spontaneity by means of techniques taken from the studio’s predictability.
Interview with Jesús Madriñán
Jesús, in your recent project called “Boas Noites” you are dealing with the nightlife in rural towns of Galicia. What’s the idea behind it and why did you choose that particular subject?
I am from Galicia, that’s why I have chosen that subject, because it is my own environment. I am interested in youth´s social relations and identity formation, so that I can analyze and answer my own doubts and questions as part of a community.
After you’d decided to take on the subject, how did you decide on the question of how to resolve it photographically, so that form would match content?
I’m not really looking for matching form and content, actually in my work it tend to happen the other way round. Working with a large format analog camera in complex and shaken environments, such as clubs or dancefloors, give a contradictory sense to the final outcome, as you don´t really get to document what it is really happening there. That´s what I am looking for.
I am more interested in documenting what it is happening in my mind when I see those situations. The resulting images are solemn and almost poetics, and somehow, through the use of light and that technique, the noisy is turned into an atmosphere of calm and serenity.
At the beginning of each project one often has some kind of idea in mind as to what the result could be like. Sometimes that changes along the way and the result is quite different. Is that the case with “Boas Noites”?
Not really. At the very beginning I knew I wanted to blend portraits and nature, in order to add context to the portraits – the real context, as those clubs are literally in the middle of the nature, in the countryside, but I was not sure it would work.
“The hardest part was being able to work at night, in winter, setting up all the equipment in the middle of the forest with no lights.”
Also I liked the idea of adding those images as a pause, like a caesura in poetry. The hardest part was being able to work at night, in winter, setting up all the equipment in the middle of the forest with no lights and almost by myself, as we were just two, my assistant Paula, and I.
Susan Sontag once said “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own”. How has photography changed the way you look at the world and what have you learnt about yourself?
I don’t think photography has changed the way I look at the world, but so has the art history and contemporary art specifically.
Hundreds of artists with their critical eye have changed the way I see reality and have made me aware of how it is the world we live in.
It is not that I have learnt something about me because of art, is that art has made me who I am.
Every photographer is going through different stages in his formation. Which “landmarks” do you recall that have marked you and brought you to the place where you are today as a photographer?
For me those “landmarks” were moving to London to study an MA and going from digital to analog. London and the MA were an explosion of inspiration, not because of the city itself, but because of the experience, the relationship with my classmates and friends that were also artists, the amazing exhibitions, etc.
And moving from digital to analog was it all: I had to change completely my work methodology in order to be able to get the photo I was looking for at the first attempt. It is a way to train your skills as an image maker.
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
I find your selection quite complete, thank you so much.