The photographer – best known for her collaborations with Solange and Arca – has released a photo book. Here, she talks us through it
Shortly before the pandemic turned the world upside-down, Barcelona-based photographer Carlota Guerrero staged her performance piece El Beso (The Kiss) in Miami, for the Spanish fashion brand Desigual. It featured 30 performers dancing, embracing, kissing and gradually removing their clothing, until they became one undulating mass of naked bodies. Little did Guerrero know that, just months later, the close physical contact that her work rejoiced in would become a thing of dread.
In times of continued distance, Guerrero’s new photo book Tengo un dragón dentro del corazón (Prestel) invites you to get close, presenting a joyous celebration of physical intimacy. The collection of 260 images showcases the photographer’s vision of subjects like nature, beauty, and spirituality, with images ranging from her personal artistic projects to editorial fashion shoots and portraits of the likes of Solange and Arca. In both text and image, this monograph is an homage to female bonds and bodies.
Accompanying the photos are pieces of writing contributed by a strong line-up of creative collaborators backing Guerrero’s debut, and whose portraits also feature in the book. Among them, singer and fellow Barcelona native Rosalía, who writes of strolling together around the Poblenou neighbourhood and Ciutadella park; and Canadian-Indian poet Rupi Kaur, who describes Guerrero as the “antidote to our male-gaze problem”.
For Guerrero, challenging that male gaze upon the female body relates just as much to the woman being photographed as to the person creating the image. “The important thing is that the woman herself decides,” the photographer tells AnOther, explaining how she works with her female subjects. “It’s not about what the image is like, but who takes the decision to represent the woman in this way.”
The resulting photographs provide a powerful sense of Guerrero’s process of bringing groups of women together to celebrate the diverse, multifaceted beauty of their own and each other’s bodies. Some pile up in pyramid-like formations, while others dance through fields of flowers. A circle of women plaiting each others’ hair reflects communal love and support, while another group gently woven together by rope speaks of immutable female ties.
“What I do is very therapeutic,” says Guerrero. From the fertile visuals and almost pagan devotion to the body, it is no surprise that her artistic approach is influenced by her interest in the mysticism of ancient goddess religions. For Guerrero, these photo sessions are spaces of healing, in which her female subjects can be vulnerable, loved and respected. “They are rituals of acceptance,” she continues. “I believe in the powers of ritual and magic.”
Tengo un dragón dentro del corazón is published by Prestel.