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Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

Damian Ucieda Cortes - Photographs

Mar 06, 2019

I use photography as a way to represent the human condition and the current climate in which we are living. Creating a visual story of events which take place in everyday life through the use of staged and documentary images.

 

Formally trained as an illustrator, I continue to use drawing as a constructive element, making the analogue photographic act the final result of a very long creative process.

 

All of my images are conceived with their own individual identity, they don’t belong to one particular series or project. My intention is that they all work independently and that each one transmits its own narrative. That being said I like my work to be viewed as a whole and when the images are placed together for associations to be made between them.


Artist Blog

The blog of Der Greif is written entirely by the artists who have been invited to doing an Artist-Feature. Every week, we have a different author.

Glasgow flats

Mar 13, 2019 - Damian Ucieda Cortes

For my last post, I’d like to present a project which I completed last year and has not yet been published or exhibited.

 

In previous trips to Scotland, I was fascinated by the variety of council houses in the cities. Reading about it I found out that since the ‘Right to Buy’ policy was approved in 1980 the number of council houses has fallen by sixty-nine percent. More than four million houses have disappeared. One house is built for every five that are sold under the ‘Right to Buy’ as Benjamin Kentish points out in an article published in the Independent in November 2017. A system which could have worked but for various different factors is currently in it’s worse state to date, disappearing not only from the urban network but also from the minds of people who would have previously considered it a viable housing alternative.

 

In 2018 I travelled to the city of Glasgow with which I was already familiar with from my student days in Scotland, with the idea of photographing these building with three boxes of Polaroid film.  I understood this exercise as a possibility to photograph something which was disappearing in relation to a photographic format which had already disappeared. In addition to this, I knew that the polaroids could bring an interesting aesthetic element to the project as it was very rare that the image turned out perfectly.

 

Shortly after taking the first few photographs I could start to see the project taking shape. Some images turned out with what we could call a correct exposure, others slightly faded or missing parts of the image and others were totally blank.

 

These were the determining factors of the exercise and if there was a lack of continuity that in itself could be favourable to the narrative. The disappearance of the image, buildings split down the middle, landscapes obstructed by marks from the polaroid and constructions disappearing under a cloud from incomplete development added another layer of information and a certain poetic quality to the project.


Mohammad’s Kitchen

Mar 12, 2019 - Damian Ucieda Cortes

Mohammad and I met a few years ago. He had not long obtained political refuge in Spain and had travelled a long way from his birthplace in Sudan, travelling through Libya and Morocco to get here. From the first moment there was a strong connection between us, a mutual feeling of trust, turning us into good friends. Despite the many cultural differences between us a strong emotional bond was created which lasted for years.

 

Some time after we had first met, by chance in conversation we discovered that we had been born on the same day, January 5th 1980. I knew we were the same age but finding out this extra piece of information evoked very different feelings in each of us. While for Mohammad it was a cause for happiness and an explanation as to why we got on so well for me it caused an immediate sadness. To think that due to geopraphics our lives were destined to be totally different and we would have an unequal share of opportunities throughout our lives to me seemed very unfair.

 

Mohammad didn’t want to be photographed so I asked him if I could photograph his house in Galicia and he accepted.


Demolition

Mar 09, 2019 - Damian Ucieda Cortes

After a year of researching and obtaining a number of different permissions, I traveled to Glasgow in September 2015 to photograph one of the many buildings that were being demolished in the city. The Tarfside Oval complex, a group of four residential towers consisting of 22 floors each, located in Mosspark, a neighborhood in the South of the city.

 

To produce this image I was faced with the challenge of capturing it on a large format camera which is a camera I often use within my practise. The problems being on one hand the slow shutter of this camera, for which I had to do some maths relating the speed of the object with the distance from camera and the speed that it would move on the negative. The second and main problem was the slow operation of the large format camera, it impossible to take more than one shot with this camera for an action that lasts two seconds as I wouldn’t have been able to load another negative in such a short space of time. I therefore made the decision to set up two cameras with an assistant operating the second one.

I was then able to produce more than one negative. Here you can see both images, I have never shown the second image before. The first one is taken on an 8×10 camera and the second one is with 4×5” camera.


Luis Seoane

Mar 08, 2019 - Damian Ucieda Cortes

Intentando golpear ideas (Trying to crush ideas) is an image which I produced for an individual show in the Fundación Luis Seoane in 2015. Luis Seoane was one of the most well known Galican painters of his time.  As a starting point for my research for the exhibition I visited the painter’s archive with the researcher Carmela Montero who specializes in his work. I chose a few of his artworks that I felt were similar to my own work to use as references in order to create an image I was going to produce for the show.  Among them was an album of wood engravings created by Luis Seoane  in 1972,  titled “Intentando golpear ideas”. In this artwork the Galician artist represents the protests that he himself lived through during his time as a student in Santiago de Compostela.


Process

Mar 07, 2019 - Damian Ucieda Cortes

Hi everyone,

 

I would like to start my first post by explaining in general terms my working process.

The cameras that I use do not give much room for manoeuvre and knowing what you are going to photograph before shooting is convenient. I need to have prior control over many of the factors related to my photography. For a number of the images, I do studies beforehand, of the location, the composition, the correct shooting angle and the time of day.

  

Before studying photography I studied illustration and this has significant value in my work today. Most of the time for my staged images I will do some initial sketches just to get the idea down on paper and to help me visualise what’s inside my head. Drawing plays an important role throughout the process but these initial sketches are almost crucial in helping me to develop the idea.

  

Once I have the idea clearer, further drawings then enable me to work on the composition and they also highlight any issues which may arise later when taking the photograph. That said, within the creative process, there is always room for error and it certainly plays an important role. It is often these little accidents which can make or break an image.

  

Here you can see some examples of my drawings.