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Interview

Erola Arcalís: "My practice combines academic research with chance encounters"

text:
Futures Photography
Date:
January 27, 2020
Erola Arcalís (b. 1986, Menorca) is a Spanish artist selected for Futures by PHotoESPAÑA. She uses the lyricism of the black-and-white photography to create fictional narratives that navigate between the staged and the encountered.

“My practice combines academic research with chance encounters. The first one would happen in the studio and the latter through places I travel to.” Arcalís’ images are inspired or make use of poetic text to construct fictions that revolve around myth, dream and personal experience.

In this interview, she talks about her inspirations and career:

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Can you explain us a little bit about your creative process? What inspires you?

My practice combines academic research with chance encounters. The first one would happen in the studio and the latter through places I travel to. I find both states of meditation and adventure essential to the process.

How do you see your relationship with photography? Why did you choose this medium?

A few years ago, I decided to learn how to use a large-format camera and started producing my own prints. It was like learning a different language that was expanding the possibilities of making as well as forcing my practice to slow down. There are long waiting times involved in the black and white analogue process. Whether is processing film, printing in the darkroom or drying a print - there are those pockets of time that allow the thinking process to continue while the image is still being made. I believe many realizations happen at that stage in between.

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Can you tell us a bit more projects that you have been working with?

‘Shipwreck Studies’ (2017) is a collection of objects brought from my hometown in Menorca that used to belong to my great-grandfather. Artisan and man of anarchist principles, his latest project was to build a 26-metre long boat that was to serve as a commune. The ship remained anchored in the middle of a barren field, five kilometres away from the sea, until a provoked fire engulfed the boat. Twenty years on, I came back and collected few of the remains of his little utopia and re-assembled them into fragile structures of no-longer serving objects and other strange materials. Through those images I wanted to both pay him a homage and to create a new memory of the tragic event.

More recently, I have been working on a collaborative project that was shown as part of ‘Performing the Real’ - curated by Tom Lovelace, at Peckham24 in London. Alongside Joshua Leon, Ramona Güntert, Emma Bäcklund and Steff Jamieson, we wrote an essay on image-making, photography and poetry and presented it in the form of a live performance. The space was propped up with our own works, including a photogram-tiled floor, a framed picture of a dinner table, wallpaper, a collection of chairs, books and magnifying glasses.

How has been the experience of being a talent selected for Futures?

It has offered me a very good opportunity to get to know organizations, festivals and professionals across Europe passionate about the photography, as well as meeting peer artists. The highlight for me was probably the portfolio review event and the possibility of travelling to Amsterdam and being there as part of Unseen.

Can you share with us a little bit about your plans for the future after being part of the platform? Do you have any new project in mind?

Currently, I am working on a new project named (in Spanish) ‘La Mesa de los Ausentes’ (Table of the Absent), which stages a table set for dinner. In this case, the table is explored as a symbol of the literary ‘tertulias’ or social gatherings of artists and writers that would get together to discuss current issues, work and ideas. That practice was widely popular in the beginning of 20th century Spain. However, during the Civil War and subsequent dictatorship (1936-1975), many intellectuals faced prosecution and were forced into exile or disappeared.  This work is still being developed and it would hopefully be exhibited in the near future.

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