European Prospects
Exploring European Identity through Photography

Paula Gortazar

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Paula Gortazar

Paula Gortazar

Biography

Paula Gortázar (b. 1984) is a photographic artist, researcher and lecturer in photography based in London. From 2002 to 2007 she studied documentary photography with celebrated Spanish photographer Rafael S. Lobato. After obtaining a Law Degree in Madrid, she moved to London to study photographic arts at Central Saint Martins and the University of Westminster, where she completed an M.A. in 2011. She has recently been awarded with a full PhD Scholarship by this University and is currently undertaking a Doctoral Research in Art and Media practice.

Gortázar’s work has been widely exhibited in Canada, USA, the UK and Spain, including venues like The Photographers’ Gallery and the London Film Museum, and published in different international media, such as the British Journal of Photography. Among 
several awards, she has recently been selected for Flash Forward Festival (Canada), the International Sony World Photography Awards, Magnum Agency & Ideas Tap Photographic Award (UK) and Westphoto Annual Photography Prize (UK).

Alongside her artistic practice, she has worked as a visiting lecturer for different Universities in the UK and Spain, including Central Saint Martins College of Art and Kingston University, and often participates as a guest speaker at a variety of photography events and seminars.

Portfolio Winter Holidays

Winter Holidays depicts a series of abandoned objects and out-of-order structures found in Pas de la Casa; a small, overpopulated town, situated in the Andorran Pyrenees between Spain and France. Hosting over five million tourists every year, this winter resort constitutes only another example of the many natural paradises colonised by humans for recreational purposes.

Since 2011, the author has travelled to this region during the peak season and photographed its changing landscape. While huge investments are made every year in the construction of new chair lifts and modern residential areas, certain structures no longer in use are left in the mountains due to its high removal costs.

Meanwhile, the environmental damage caused throughout this “protected” mountain chain, threatens the survival of thousands of species inhabiting those peaks.

Portfolio The Rope

And as she drew with chalk that straight line on the blackboard, Mrs. Galeano insisted:

“The distance between two infinite points could never be delimited within a concrete, identifiable space”

The first time I heard this statement from my third grade maths teacher, I was far too young to make any sense out of it. Any pre-conceived notion of reality I could think about at the time – which was probably very narrow – eventually turned upside down. Since then, my inability to visualize such infinite, non-traceable space became an obsession.

This project explores the notion of infinity combining the use of memories and a collection of visual fantasies emerged form the unfilled gaps in-between those memories. The images propose an alternative correlation of events, a place were we can refuse to become a precise result in a series of consecutive actions, but rather enjoy the infinite combination of everything we have ever dreamt, imagined or wished for. After all, the distance travelled at the end of our journey is unlikely to become identifiable in spatial terms.

Portfolio Common Space

The European Union was created in the aftermath of the Second World War with the purpose of promoting the economic cooperation between countries, believing that making all of them economically interdependent would avoid further conflict. Since then, the Union has developed into a huge single market with the Euro as its common currency for most of its member states. What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organisation spanning all areas, from development aid to environmental policy.

 

Common Space depicts the interiors of the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg, an institution which, despite being little understood or liked by many citizens, is gaining a prominent role in legislating our everyday European living circumstances. In its corridors, offices and meeting rooms, these quasi-futuristic spaces reveal a dream created in the fifties; a future whose ideals have been recently put into question after the serious economic recession suffered across the continent.

Publications

Publications: 

Art Wednesday, UK
Arquitectura Viva, Spain
British Journal of Photography, UK
30y3, Spanish Photography Now, Madrid, Spain
Incandescent Zine, Portland, Oregon, USA
Protein Journal, Protein Gallery, London, UK
Lens Scratch Blogzine, USA
F-stop online Magazine

Exhibitions: 

2013 Contexto Critico: Spanish Photography of the 21st Century, Tabacalera, Madrid, Spain
2013 Flash Forward Festival, The Magenta Foundation, Boston, USA
2012 Fresh Faced & Wild Eyed, The Photographers' Gallery, London, UK 
2012 Magnum Agency & IdeasTap Photographic Award, London Film Museum, UK 
2012 Power Games, Dreamspace Gallery, London, UK 

Additional information: 

Read an interview with Gortazar discussing her practice on ArtWednesday.