MADRID, SPAIN. Photos. The things that fill boxes, albums, Facebook pages and Instagrams, all to help us remember that speck in time that we were scared we wouldn’t remember. Besides the social media craze that photos have lent themselves to, photography is a way to document history visually that words cannot explain.

PHotoEspaña is an International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts that Spain has boasted since 1998. Now noted as one of the most relevant visual arts exhibitions in the world, the event draws more than seven hundred thousand people each year. Exhibitions are hosted all over Madrid in the main museums, art centers, and galleries.

Unlike other years, this year’s PHotoEspana will focus on geographic areas, rather than conceptual themes. “In the Memory,” one of this year’s exhibitions is based on the work of photographer Piedad Isla and showcases the work of five women: Ana Teresa Ortega, Beatriz Ruibal, Linarejos Moreno, Piedad Isla, Pilar Beltrán, Rosell Meseguer. As the website states, “Photography, through its ability to capture images in the here and now, inevitably forces the viewer to reflect on the fleeting nature of things. The work of these photographers, each with her own unique style and approach, examines our awareness of the passing of time, of the need to remember, and of the threat of oblivion that looms over everything that ever existed.”

Here is what Olivia Rubio, Artistic Director of La Fabrica, the organizing company of PHotoEspaña, had to say about the exhibition.

Why is this exhibit special?

Olivia Rubio: The specificity of this exhibition is that it brings together six generations of photographers to reflect on personal and collective, family and social memory. The photographers reflect from different perspectives using pictures and video in various ways— from documentary photography in black and white and color photography to larger formatted photos passed and printed on burlap. Starting from the most intimate and emotional are the pictures of Beatriz Ruibal from the project entitled “Mother,” to the coldest and rational photography by Ana Teresa Ortega which portray the buildings and places that were used as internment camps for prisoners during the civil war.

In what ways does this exhibit demonstrate the power of women or the influence of women during this time period?

I have no doubt that the presence and influence of women in the photography and in the art in general has increased in our country. This exhibit demonstrates that if Piedad Isla was the only feminine figure during her time, the same cannot be said of this decade where the presence of women is ever growing.

How have visitors responded to this exhibit?

The visitors are very interested and appreciate the diversity of the photos in a way that puts the same amount of importance on the photos as it does on the memory of the events. This is special since this is a country that tends to be forgetful and forget easily, especially with issues that may be more controversial than others.

What is your favorite part of the exhibit and why?

As a curator, I do not have a part that I like better than the others. All of the work is selected by the intrinsic importance and because they provide aspects that enrich the discourse of time through political memory, family memory, spatial memory, etc.

Real Jardín Botánico – CSIC
Plaza de Murillo, 2
28014 Madrid
Metro Atocha / Atocha Renfe

Mon-Sun: 10 – 20:30 h

3 €

T + 34 91 420 30 17

Dates: 4 June – 27 July

Curators: Julio César Abad Vidal y Oliva María Rubio
Organized by: PHotoEspaña
In collaboration with: Real Jardín Botánico – CSIC

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