García Rodero, Cristina

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Cristina García Rodero

Puertollano (Ciudad Real), 1949


Born in Puertollano (Ciudad Real) in 1949, today she is one of the most outstanding figures in Spanish photography on the international scene. She bought her first camera at the age of sixteen during a school trip to Ceuta. Shortly afterwards, she completed her first report on “El día del Voto” (Voting day), a traditional festival in her hometown. In 1968 she moved to Madrid to study at the Complutense University, where she graduated in Fine Arts four years later. At that time she also began studying photography at the Escuela de Artes Aplicadas y Oficios Artísticos in Madrid. In 1975 she became a teacher at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño in Madrid, which began a long relationship with the field of teaching that led her to obtain a professorship at that school and to teach photography in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid.

She traveled to Florence on a scholarship to further her practice of photography and to study painting. There she took pictures of political protests. On her return, she was awarded a grant for plastic arts from the Juan March Foundation in 1972, which marked the beginning of her professional career, starting with a project that would last two decades, focusing on local festivals in the villages of Spain. The result was a book, España oculta (Hidden Spain) (1989), with which her journey came to an end and she won the prize for the best book at Les Rencontres d’Arles, where it was exhibited for the first time, as well as the Kodak Fotobuch Preis Award. This marks the beginning of her international recognition. España oculta has been presented in many exhibitions around the world: Germany, Italy, Mexico, Venezuela, United States and Japan.

In 1989 she began a new project entitled Traditional life, festivals, cults and rituals in the European Mediterranean, supported by the award of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund prize, given to humanist photography projects. Her investigation on traditional rituals and festivities has since spread to different places around the world: East Europe (Georgia), Latina America (Haiti and Cuba), Asia and Africa.

In 1996, the Spanish Ministry of Culture awarded her the National Photography Prize and, in 2004, the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts. Her other awards include the first World Press Photo prize in 1993 in the art category; the Bartolomé Ros Prize for the best Spanish professional career in photography, awarded as part of the PHotoEspaña festival (2000); the Conde de Godó prize for photo-journalism (2000); the Spanish Geographical Society prize for her entire career (2001), and the Culture Prize of the Community of Madrid for her entire artistic career (2005).

After working for years with Agence Vu’, she joined Magnum Photos in 2005. In 2010 she brought together more than a hundred photographs taken in Galicia over three decades in the exhibition Transtempo, presented at the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea in Santiago de Compostela and later at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. In 2013 she joined the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Spain). She is currently preparing a project in Anantapur (India), commissioned by the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.

[Carlos Martín]