United Kingdom

Janire Najera



Janire Najera (b.1981) is a Spanish photojournalist and curator based between Cardiff (Wales), Bilbao (Basque Country) and Santa Fe (New Mexico). She studied Journalism in Madrid and Documentary Photography at the University of Wales, Newport.

Since graduating she has undertaken artistic residencies and exhibited internationally. The Spanish and the Welsh Arts Councils have supported the production of her most recent projects in New Mexico (USA) and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).
Through her work she hopes to re-think and develop imagery that questions the histories and environments we belong to. Her documentary practice is concerned with highlighting communities that have been displaced through changing social and economic climates.

For the last five years she has curated the multidisciplinary art project Ghosts in Armour, an artistic exploration into the declining of an industry that has shaped parallel cultures across Europe.

She is a member of the Welsh Collective Gwead.


Moving Forward, Looking Back

Moving Forward, Looking Back is a documentary project focused on identity, based on memory and inspired by travel.

I travelled across the states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California to explore the Spanish cultural legacy still present in the USA. I followed the route of the Old Spanish Trail, tracing the footsteps of trader Antonio Armijo, who in 1829-30 linked the Spanish colonial outposts of New Mexico and California. In an RV from 1984 and with Armijo’s brief diary in hand, I traversed what it became the first recorded roundtrip across the Southwest.

The early pioneers travelled this trail mainly to trade goods. Yet my intentions for this journey were not to exchange blankets and serapes for mules and horses but to engage with Spanish descendants in order to share their stories and reveal the intangible heritage that still evokes Spanish culture in New Mexico and California. I was able to gain a clearer understanding of how the traditions of the first settlers have merged with local cultures and have influenced the creation and identity of today’s pueblos and modern cities.

Many more journeys, some of the more metaphorical, have emerged during this trip; the journey across history, before and after the Spanish got to the Americas, the journey of the lives of the people I met during my travels, and also a journey of self-discovery through the perceptions of many people who feel proud of their heritage.


Re-Imagining a Conflict

As an outsider, I have been captivated and intrigued by the powerful mural imagery generated in Northern Ireland over the last few decades.
Through the process of double exposure in camera, I have explored the double dimension that characterises Northern Ireland’s conflict. The photographs merge symbols from the past with the people from the neighbourhoods in which the murals are still displayed; inviting audiences to question the dualities generated by human nature itself or through the influence of the memory in the understanding of the present.
A powerful iconography has emerged to respond to a political situation. These symbols created during or after “The Troubles” are still up in the streets of Belfast and Derry displaying explicit and implicit messages to residents and visitors.


A Guided Tour Through Disaster

Travelling to Chernobyl might not be to everyone’s taste but demand has increased since the Ukrainian government decided to regulate access to the area a few years ago. Each day a small number of daily guided tours occur where people are allowed to enter within the 30 km exclusion zone to witness the desolation of a landscape affected by the nuclear disaster of 1986. Most itineraries include a stop less than 150 meters away from Reactor Number 4, where the accident began, before moving on to visit the city of Pripyat, once home to the workers and their families and now perhaps the most haunting reminder of the effects on humanity when a nuclear disaster strikes.
A trip to Chernobyl is regarded by some as ‘dark tourism’, a term that has been developed though academic studies which have analysed why people travel to areas associated with human tragedy. Why do we feel attracted by places like Chernobyl? For some it might be the historical relevance or the aesthetics of a place slowly shaped by time or reclaimed by nature, whilst for others its simple a chance to explore the unknown or the inaccessible. Other theories defend that this new genre of travel is a consequence of the commercialisation of death within our modern society.