Carlota Guerrero’s First Photobook Redefines Womanhood

BRICKS caught up with Carlota Guerrero to chat about her new photobook Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón which dropped last week.

IMAGES Courtesy of Carlota Guerrero

Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón (translation: I Have A Dragon Inside My Heart) is the first photobook born from the exceptional mind of self-taught Spanish photographer Carlota Guerrero. You might recognise her work from Solange Knowles’ 2016 album cover, A Seat at the Table, where Carlota captured the singer, honest and still. Like the iconic portrait, the book presents a candid vision of womanhood, reshaping the lens through which we perceive women. 

Released last Tuesday 27 April, the poignant imagery is accompanied by texts from Rosalía, Rupi Kaur, Paloma Lanna, Leticia Sala and Alejandra Smits. The subversive narrative explores a unique blend of feminism, nature and performance and provides imperative insight into ideas of femininity and gender, nature and human connections, the female body, patterns, and the Golden Ratio. Through each hazy still and soul-stirring shot, Carlota’s savoir faire is undeniable as she comes increasingly at home in a chaotic world for this dreamy picture story. 

Inside, relish in 260 ethereal images, each page packed with Guerrero’s portraits of women in nature; stills from her Art Basel Miami performance art piece; pictures from her project documenting the transgender community in Cuba, and more.

BRICKS caught up with Carlota Guerrero for a conversation delving deep into what inspires and drives her, the significance of her sublime subject matter and her creative process, following the release of her new photo book. 

Prepare to indulge in intimate portrayals of the female form, earthy tones that provide a sense of connectivity, and the human body in its truest form, in the visceral photographs that stretch across the captivating pages of Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón.

Sacred Bonds
2018

Phillip Lim
2019

Can you tell us a bit about your childhood and how it has influenced your work today? 

Growing up with my friends in Barcelona, including Paloma Wool, Camila Falquez and Olga de la Iglesia, has been influential. We were all investing our energy in the arts and now we dedicate our lives to them. They are my sisters, supporting one another and sharing our experiences of growing up as female artists in Spain – which isn’t an easy path – so for me it means sorority.

Who or what inspires you?

I take inspiration in God and in nature. This has not changed since I started photographing. I also admire my mother and sister and the women that have been with me together raising me and supporting me. That’s where I get main inspiration, in the real love I can find in my life – in nature and its patterns.

Which image or collection of images, included in the book, are you most proud of and why? 

I am very proud of the orgy in Art Basel Miami as it was a really difficult project because it was very ambitious, but a lovely experience. I connected with everyone involved; they all presented themselves as vulnerable beings in front of a huge audience and I will forever be thankful for how great they were. This was right before the pandemic and now it feels like a surreal experience as that would be something impossible to achieve these days. 

I use art as a healing process, making an inventory of images with all the things that give sense to my existence and make it more beautiful.

Creación for Paloma Wool
2019

Four Red Merging Bodies for Numéro Berlin
2019

Why do you take photos? 

I use art as a healing process, making an inventory of images with all the things that give sense to my existence and make it more beautiful.

You are said to reflect upon “a modern, and progressive and body confident vision of a post MeToo feminism where femininity and female sensuality are celebrated instead of exploited.” What does this mean to you personally and why is it important?

Femininity is a miraculous energy. Depicting women was an unconscious decision that became extremely conscious after years of repetition; it is something genuine and instinctive.

I focus my work on women because when I wake up in the morning my femininity is the first thing I connect with. I portray what moves me, what I want to learn about. It is something genuine and instinctive. Being a woman is my condition and starting point. I start exploring from what I know, from what I am most familiar with – myself. My self-love does not differ (or should not differ) from my love for other women. I feel an infinite admiration for the woman’s figure, her power and presence fascinate me to a visceral extent. 

Femininity is a miraculous energy. Depicting women was an unconscious decision that became extremely conscious after years of repetition; it is something genuine and instinctive.

Why did you decide to put this photobook together?

I always wanted to stop and collate my own body of work, so when the editor Ali Gitlow wrote to tell me Prestel were interested in publishing a monograph with me I thought it was a sign. It was very important for me to present this book as the finishing time of a cycle of my life.

What is the significance of nature and nudity in your work?

With nature, I feel I get all my inspiration from opening my channel and receiving all these ideas and information that are floating in the air, in the trees and sea. I open myself and I get images and scenes – I cannot rest until I portray them. This has not changed since I started photographing.

Nudity is interesting to me as clothing is something that separates my lens from the subject that I am portraying. It adds a layer of information that sometimes I do not want to decode. If I want to portray somebody’s essence, the easiest way for me is naked.

Spiritual Striptease LA, 2019

What does the title “I Have a Dragon Inside My Heart” mean to you personally? 

‘I Have a Dragon Inside My Heart’ – the book’s title – means perseverance, persistence and initiative. For me, the dragon lives inside my heart is this infinite force where I get my strength, my drive and ideas from. The dragon is a wild version of god.

How did you select the images for the book?

Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón is an inventory of images with all the things that make my existence more beautiful. This book is an essay about my repetitive patterns; I curated it by tracing a map of them. When I compare the artistic evolution, I find that I am in fact doing the same as I was 8 years ago but with less fear of darkness and less fear of sex. 

If I want to portray somebody’s essence, the easiest way for me is naked.

Describe your creative process?

I photograph similar compositions, subjects and scenarios over and over – without almost thinking about it, they keep coming to me. This behaviour makes me think of a blooming orchid that doesn’t know she is doing so. I make compositions when I am thriving, I am those compositions – and many times I feel like I do not choose them, but they choose me. 

What’s next for Carlota Guerrero?

I hope photography will take me to a lot of experimentation, meeting new artists, exploring new spaces and creating new communities. 

Carlota Guerrero’s debut photography book Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón is published by Prestel on 27th April 2021.

<strong>Emily Phillips</strong>
Emily Phillips

Emily Phillips is a BIPoC Canadian writer presently based in North London. She is a current BA: Fashion Journalism student at University of the Arts London: London College of Fashion. Emily has an insightful, creative, and seductive voice that shines through in her writing. Her work has been published in 10 Magazine and Coeval Magazine, as well as the 2021 book Networked Futures: Online Exhibitions and Digital Hierarchies from the digital art gallery platform isthisit?

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