Coco Capitán & the Most Remote Place on Earth

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Middle Point Between My HOUSE and China by Coco CapitánPhotography by Coco Capitán

The photographer explores the reality of China through the perspective of her childish dreams of the country

The first photograph Coco Capitán ever took was when she was seven years old, of her mother sitting on a sunlit beach. Now, aged 22, she is still as excited by photography as she was as a girl growing up in the suburbs of Spain. A new series, Middle Point Between My HOUSE and China is a collection of images that evoke the isolation and confusion one suffers when travelling alone through foreign land. For the project, Capitán took on the guise of an outsider to explore the depths and truth of China, and ten of the photographs are currently on show at the Photographer’s Gallery, part of the group show FreshFaced + WildEyed 2015. With the full series in the process of being made into a book, here, she talks to AnOther about the motivations behind her desire to explore the long-forgotten parts of China.

On choosing China…
“As a child I used to think of China as the most remote place in the world. I thought that if I dug deep down enough in my back garden I would reach it at the other side of my tunnel. When I realised I could never reach China by digging, I decided to establish myself in the Middle Point Between My House & China. 'China' represented the desire of running away, my goals; while 'House' was my present reality. I wanted to take images that would denote how I perceived China, my personal experience in the country and how I saw the people who were there.”

On the inspiration behind the images…
“All the images relate to my personal story. At the time I was going through a break-up which happened to inspire the image of the ducks, for example. They are next to each other but looking in completely different directions in that picture. To me they were so close to each other they couldn't find themselves anymore. One of the main goals was to create a juxtaposition of images representing a more strict reality and images representing how reality is thought of and idealised.”

On capturing Chinese culture...
“I wanted to capture the isolation and confusion you suffer when you are in a completely different culture from your own. I wanted to document my own idealised vision of China and be very specific about this and also analyse what I was looking at. I think photography is a very useful tool to acknowledge how things are perceived.”

On the direction of her photography…
“I photographed images both in China and in a studio in London in order to capture the right moment. For the in-situ photographs, I would spend days and days wondering around with my camera trying to discover what I was looking at – they are spontaneous images of what was already there. I met people on the street and would ask them if I could take their picture by pointing at my camera. For the ones in the studio, I recreated what I experienced while being in China, I imagined and designed to the very last detail how every image would look before I took them. I think things 'don't need to be', they just are perfect or imperfect.”

A selection from Middle Point Between My HOUSE and China is showing at FreshFaced + WildEyed 2015 at the Photographer's Galler until July 5.