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Interview

Olivares, Rosa
Until you drop

CRISTINA GARCÍA RODERO, Love Parade, Berlín, 1999

(Interview with Cristina García Rodero)

They say a photograph makes you immortal, that once you're fixed on that bit of paper, somewhere between magic and technique, which is a photograph, you never die. Possibly the person who said that was thinking about one of the thousands of characters who appear in the work of Cristina García Rodero. They are a legion of men and women; children eternally cheerful, their smiles and gestures frozen for ever, who shine once again ever time people look at them. But there is also a lot of sadness, perhaps the inevitable sadness of knowing that eternity is not made for joy, that everything was scarcely a fleeting moment; perhaps the sadness which comes after the joy. It seems that there can be no pleasure without pain, no joy without sadness. As at the liveliest party, after the laughter, the food, the drink, the guffaws, the dancing, afterwards comes a hangover which leaves us with our mouth, stomach and head empty and sad. After the party in the streets, the next morning there is only rubbish left, even if what was celebrated was a party of life and love.

Cristina García Rodero knows a lot about parties, about happiness and sadness. She knows a lot about people. She has been travelling for years through the villages and towns of Spain and everywhere else. Like a puppeteer, she goes from village to village, party to party, smile to smile. She has witnessed rituals of life and death, festivals which are religious and pagan, public and private. Because at the end of the day they all coexist in each and every one. The party may be the whole town's, a million and a half people in one single spot, or two people who really adore each other and can laugh and dance and enjoy themselves, turning their backs on everything. Because the party is forgetting everything, going mad, doing something different, or at least experiencing it in a special way. Birthdays, births, weddings, reunions, triumphs, typical dates; from the formal dress parties of upper class adolescents or 15th birthdays amongst Latin American teenagers to old age pensioners' dances, everything can be a party.

CRISTINA GARCÍA RODERO, La Tabúa, Zarza de Montánchez, Cáceres, 1985

García Rodero's eye has been attentive to the inflexions of bodies, the shadows of smiles, the snippets of scenes within other scenes. She has known how to capture each individual detail in major celebrations, rescuing people from amongst the masses and the clichés. People who dance and laugh: who at that moment, at least, were happy.... although later, as always after the party, each one returns to his or her place and to his or her dull daily life. Winner of the National Photography Prize and the most important international awards, a teacher adored by her students, a photographer admired and loved by virtually everyone, Cristina García Rodero seems to have finally found a place amongst the most important names in Spanish art today, not only amongst Spanish photographers. Her presence at the last Venice Biennial in Harald Szeeman's selection of artists was yet a further recognition, perhaps the most public one, which international art has given her. Her exhibition on Haiti in Madrid last year meant yet another meeting with a faithful public and a professional sector increasingly less inclined towards parties and fun. But faithful to herself, she continues her line and style of life and work, now proposing that perhaps it is the moment to begin to measure out her strength, to think twice about a trip, and not accept any more commissions, to enjoy her life and her time for herself, not for photography and for all her characters.

-Don't you get tired of doing parties, festivals and rituals all over the world?

The thing is that I have a lot of staying power, I have a huge amount of patience and I have dreams. I get it from my mother, who I remember always with her eyes full of hope, she liked everything. Everything seemed marvellous to her. She didn't want to miss out on anything. That enthusiasm my mother always had, I think I also have. But yes, it is true that as the years gradually pass, it's not that you lose the enthusiasm, but you no longer have the same energy and there are lots of other things which also interest you, you realise that you no longer have your whole life in front of you and that, in the best possible case, if life treats you well, you have a few years left. And I don't want my life to be so full of trips and reports instead of so many other things...and this making the most of time and not losing your enthusiasm will be what sets limits to this work. (…)

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