Photographs that feel as if they were paintings, leave you in awe of the vast diversity of the natural feminine body; but, within that awe, the feeling of vulnerability lies beneath. Vulnerability for the model, but for you as well.
The exposure of skin (specifically skin that belongs to women) has been historically scrutinized, resulting in a beleif that the body is something to hide, something to be ashamed of. However, within these images, there is power in vulnerability, in this very physical exposure of oneself. A type of power that cannot be taken away from the one to whom it belongs.
The viewer of these images is forced to address their own resistance to vulnerability by highlighting insecurity. The "kind of body" typically reserved for comic relief, the average body, the "real" body steps into the spotlight.
The Barcelona-based photographer who lead the breath-taking visuals for singer Solange Knowles’s album A Seat at the Table in 2016, Carlota Gurrero, has used this pandemic to start a new chapter in her life starting with her latest book. Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón which translates to ‘I have a dragon in my heart”, captures the essence of the divine feminine through images of women of all shapes, sizes and colours.
Guerrero’s signature aesthetic shines through the pages effortlessly. A tangible celebration of the female form in a dream-like world, the book nurtures raw and unfiltered images of the natural beauty of women, who are embodying emotions, trauma, memories and freedom.
Gurrero’s earlier work, from a time the self-taught photographer was still discovering her creative lens, also takes up space in this volume. Images include a still from a performance piece from the Art Basel Miami, a collaboration with poet Rupi Kaur, and images of her project of documenting the transgender community in Cuba. Also included in the book are written pieces by Rosalía, Rupi Kaur, Paloma Lanna, Teticia Sala, and Alejandra Smits. From an article by Creative Bloom, Rupi Kaur comments on the first time she saw an image by Carlota.
"Its softness moved me. Its playfulness pulled me in," She says. "That's when I realized that playing in Carlota's world is much better than strolling through real life. In an industry dominated by men shooting women's bodies, Carlota's vision is refreshing. In a world where the feminine is violated, the femininity that Carlota captures is honest and empowering. I believe that Carlota Guerrero is one of the great artists of our time.".
Carlota Guerrero, Alva Claire for Allure, Conde Nast, 2018
In an interview with Harpers Bazaar, when asked why women continue to be a focal point for Gurrero’s influence, she replies, “First of all, it's because I am one. So it's my first interest when I wake up in my body. My experience here is very defined by that energy./My life was driven by women always, and I couldn't help but feel love and admiration towards them. I had this urge to portray that energy that was inspiring and still inspires me.”.
In an industry that is mostly male-dominated, the vision of Carlota Gurrer is like a breath of fresh air in a world filled with toxic pollution of imagery. In a world where the divine feminine is violated, the femininity captured through Gurrero’s lens embodies women for what they are, instead of what we want them to be.
Gurrero’s work forces us to ask a question; What is femininity? And who are we to decide what is feminine, and what is not?
Model Mafia, New York, 2018, Carlota Guerrero, copyright Carlota Guerrero
A textbook definition of the word will tell us that femininity is the nature of the female sex, the quality, state or degree of being feminine or “womanly”. Defining what is feminine and what is masculine is always being challenged. To Carlota, femininity is an energy, one that anyone can tap into. Having the Yin Yang balance of both the Divine Feminine and Masculine energy, within us. However, it might be a 70/30 or 40/60 divide for some of us.
What was once an unconscious decision of capturing the lives of woman, have now become an extremely conscious decision after years and years of practice.
Gurrero’s work has been known for exploring the themes of femininity, gender, the relationship of human connections, and the Golden Ratio. In an interview with Womanly LIve, she mentions that her approach to photography is to create images that are timeless in nature, and portray the deeper aspects of life.
“I feel an intimate admiration for a woman’s figure; her power and presence fascinate me to a visceral extent. To me, to photograph is to honour, celebrate, and thank everything I learn from them. And the stairway, the idea of the infinite stairway of women being carried by other women from immemorial times, transmitting and passing on knowledge and intuition,”
Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón is a book that translates the conversations of images that speak about the natural, unfiltered and realistic beauty of women, the diversity of beauty and the Queer community. What do you see, when you look at these photos?