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Interview

Ruth Montiel Arias: I use photography as another tool in the militancy to which I am attached

text:
Futures Photography
Date:
November 30, 2020
“I use photography as another tool in the militancy to which I am attached to.” In this interview, meet the artist Ruth Montiel Arias, nominated for Futures this year by PhotoEspaña.

Ruth graduated in Applied Arts from the Pablo Picasso Higher School of Arts in A Coruña, she completed the Master of Corporate Identity at the Pompeu Fabra UPF University in Barcelona during 2005-06, and the Master of Photography EFTI in 2010. Her projects investigate the human relationship with natural territory, and its derived conflicts of domination and animal, social and environmental oppression.⁠

We talked to her about her career and inspirations:

The documentary photographer Adam Broomberg mentored five Futures Talents over the three months running up to Unseen Amsterdam 2019
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Can you tell us a little bit about your inspirations? Which themes do you often work with?

I started working on the problems that the human species cause on natural spaces, but in recent years I wanted to focus attention on the animal exploitation by humans. I sincerely believe that animal rights issues should not go unnoticed in the art world.

How do you see your relationship with the medium? How do you use photography to express your art?

I use photography as another tool in the militancy to which I am attached to, trying to make the viewer reflect through the image using its own codes, but also questioning them. In matters of shooting, technique and format I am not a purist, quite the opposite, I am clear about the conceptual aim of the project I am facing, and from there I make the necessary decisions, whether I use own images or archive, the important thing is the message.

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Do you have any ongoing (or more recent) project that you would like to share with us?

At the moment I am producing a new work that I have titled El2% (this title is still provisional), thanks to the Cultural Resident 2020 production grants from the Valencia Museum Consortium and in collaboration with Las Cigarreras, a cultural center in Spain. This project follows my line of work in recent years, in which I show the exploitation and abuse that humans perform towards animals.

In El2%, unlike other previous works, I not only want to demonstrate and analyze this abusive relationship, but I am interested in going further and raising the debates that are being carried out from environmental studies on the conservation and intervention of wild animals, and how it can affect them and their surroundings.

I am also working on rethinking a utopian future where humans change our role to become the one who serves the environment, instead of being the other way around.

We have been facing a lot of challenges this year. How do you see this moment for art? Is it changing your practice?

It is a time of opportunities, opportunities to continue learning, growing and generating new ways of communicating and relating to viewers. In my case it is changing, I am very aware of how museums, festivals and cultural activities are using digital platforms to bring their content to the public, but I am also interested in analyzing how the dynamics of users are using social networks and entertainment platforms, and how they generate behavior modifications for their benefit. I am interested in seeing how artists can play one role or another based on our ways of understanding this new situation.

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Can you share with us some of your plans for the future? Do you have any new project in mind?

Right now, I am very immersed in El2%, but later I will continue working with two long-term projects that I have, one of them is "In the depth of space 2050" on the world of fishing, and the other "When children and dogs were witnesses" on pig slaughter in the northern regions of Spain.

What do you expect from this experience as a Futures talent?

Adding one more voice from the field of photography and creation with images. Showing that animal exploitation is an important issue to take into account from the field of art and photography. That being contemporary is also being a person involved with the world in which you live. I also hope to continue opening doors for this topic to be more present in meetings, festivals or exhibitions, digitally or analogically.

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