My name is Naroa, I’m photographer, born in Barcelona, raised in Saint Sebastian, and came to London to study a proper fine art photography degree. Involved professionally in photography since 2002, I studied in Spain, worked as commercial photographer and in 2011 came back to the darkroom, to analogue, to the darkness, to chemistry and to water.
Since then I have developed my practice around the darkroom, working on colour prints and after getting mad with colour I started with photographic liquid emulsion. I coat the emulsion onto fabric and create different shapes using papier mache technique and then use some resin on them. The work is related to the sense of touch and nostalgia. Nostalgia of being touched, nostalgia of being able to touch and feel.
What are you doing?
I’m working in the darkroom most of the time, or creating new shapes and ways to display my work, experimenting, and asking other professionals from other disciplines and other photographers about new ways of creating new pieces. Collaboration is essential.
Why do you do it?
Well I guess that I have a little obsession with the sense of touch and also love photography. I like experimenting, trying, failing, creating new mistakes, and trying again. The repetition is part of photography, and repetition makes us professionals I guess, finding the best way of creating what we want.
The sense of touch is ambiguous and difficult to deal with. The no-touch policy with kids in schools and also in galleries and museums is something that makes me think a lot. Now I’m doing a lot of research and I realised how important this sense is and if we don’t give it the attention it needs we will have serious consequences.
Culturally touch was really important for personal and professional relations, we still shake hands. But now sight is the most important sense, the sense of distance. When touch is the sense of no no distance. Touch needs contact.
How does your work relate to the theme alchemy?
I feel a darkroom is full of chemistry, of metals, of options, of experimenting, of water, of mistakes, of HAPPY mistakes that turn into something special, creative, and is a continuos development and learning process.
I also link darkrooms to kitchens, usually some of the best recipes come from a happy mistake, a burnt pan, or an ingredient missed or added by mistake.
So alchemy is that, try and try and try, with chemistry, with instinct, with knowledge, mixing all kind of skills in collaboration with other crazy alchemists, with development and experimenting in mind.
Please tell us about one of your submitted pieces – Concshell
This piece has a long process of creation, I mean, there have been a lot of steps to get here, and actually this is not the last or unique way/shape.
First is the images, taken in the Barbican centre, conservatory. These images were made in 2016 and I used them in the colour darkroom to create Duotone images. But later I used them for Liquid emulsion prints on Organdie fabric. In this image there are two prints on organdie fabric, (is a very transparent fabric 100% cotton)
After making the prints in the darkroom, they were flat prints on fabric, and I wanted them to have a shape, so with the papier mache technique I created bubbles, I joined them and it was like a balloon, and it worked. But then I decided to hang it from only one side of the balloon and looked like a conch shell, and with a bit of breeze it starts moving nicely in circles.
What’s your interpretation of the link between art and alchemy?
The link is the journey of knowledge, in a big and large sense or in a particular and personal way. Art and alchemy is the need to walk and find the answers to personal or professional questions. Doubts, contradictions, research, experiment, try. Usually all art disciplines have a wide range of techniques that artist try and develop and experiment. And through that language tries to answer inner questions.
References of my work:
1.- Terra Infirma, Irit Rogoff
2.- Future of Nostalgia, Svetlana Boym
3.- “From the Private to the Public: Photography, Film, and the Transmission of Cultural Memory in Hollis Frampton’s (NOSTALGIA)”, Shira Segal
4.- Art as Therapy, Alain de Botton and John Armstrong
5.- TOUCH, The science of the sense that makes us Human, David J. Linden
6.- The deepest sense, A cultural History of Touch, Constance Classen.
Find Naroa here: www.naroaphoto.com