PHotoEspaña 2014: Photography from the Spanish-speaking world

Yohann Koshy

We’re about half way through PHotoEspaña 2014’s two-month run, but that still gives you more than enough time to explore its superbly curated exhibitions across Madrid.

For the first time, they’ve decided to gather all the exhibitions under a single geographic theme: photography from the Spanish-speaking world.  

With over twenty different exhibitions, PHotoEspaña has introduced us to the rationalist cathedrals of mid-20th century Spain, the surreal fringes of folkloric communities, as well as exquisite portraits of street hustlers and albinos.

The exhibitions are accompanied by lectures and debates aimed at both photography aficionados and newcomers.

That said, many of the photos – like the sensual resignation we see in DiCorcia’s ‘Marilyn’ or Zabalza’s moment of lightening justice – are so powerful they speak for themselves.  

Diego Collado, Data Recovery, 2010-14

Part of the ‘Photography 2.0’ exhibition, Collado and others explore the “technological unconsciousness” lurking behind a post-capitalist world of digital image reproduction. 

Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Marilyn, 28 años, Las Vegas, 1990-92

DiCorcia’s famous ‘Hustler’ series defined the cinematographic aesthetic that photography embraced in the 90s. ‘Marilyn’ was paid $30 for her services. 

Gustavo Lacerda, Marcus, Andreza and André, 2014

Lacerda’s piercing portraits of albinos are part of the ‘Latent Element: Ten photographers from Latin America’ exhibition. 

Ramon Zabalza, Outside of Toledo, 1986

This is taken from ‘So Near, So Far’, an illuminating exhibition dedicated to photographers in the 70s and 80s who documented the fringes of Spanish society. The gulf between rural and urban, modernity and tradition, are brought into sinister relief, with Franco’s legacy always lurking in the background. 

Josep Renau, All men are created equal, 1956. Image courtesy of the Valencia Institute of Modern Art. 

The Communist and provocateur who commissioned Picasso’s Guernica has an entire exhibition dedicated to his fearless and funny photomontages. Here, he visualises America’s hypocrisies. Who said politics was all about nuance? No-one, that’s who. 

Louis Llado, Cine Barcelo Madrid, 1930. Image courtesy of the Centre for Social and Human Sciences (CSIC). 

Rather than simply being a vehicle for portraying architecture, the ‘Photography and Modern Architecture in Spain 1925-65’ exhibition reminds us how photography itself is an extension of the very same modernism that germinated buildings like this beautiful Spanish cinema.

Piedad Isla, A Huebra limpiando el monte, 1962. 

‘In the Memory’ uses six contemporary female photographers to explore social memory using Piedad’s warm and lively ethnographic photographs as their starting point. Here we see a typical rural community from near Isla’s native Palencia.

PHotoEspaña 2014 runs until July 27.  

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