“I seek the unexpected”, asserts the photographer some way into the conversation, speaking both forcefully and with some surprise, like someone who has just found a gift they had always yearned for.
Fernando Maquieira was taking photographs for a long time before he decided to become a photographer; it took ten years before he discovered that this artform fitted him like a tailor-made suit. He used to take photographs for a living while devoting his energies to music. When he looks back now, he realizes that consensus, teamwork, and continuous communion were all necessary in that creative process. While teamwork still appeals to him, the independence and autonomy of photography were the two aspects that he most appreciated when his objective changed: the feeling of being a driving force for himself and not for others. A sense of power, even if it is offset with responsibility and loneliness.
“Everything started with Walker Evans”. This comes from a WASP-y tradition that is not his own and from which he has slowly been detaching himself. Influences come and go, although the way he developed his viewpoint was partly due to the WASPs, and now Eastern European photographers have taken the lead with photography that is so much purer than the former due to their isolation.
“I’m a huge fan of failure. It helps me improve”, he says emphatically. Maquieira came late to photography, well past the age of egotism, success and haste, as he himself asserts. “I came to understand that a career is a life. I was in no hurry to attain a particular position for myself, and everything just flowed. The journey itself is what makes me happy”.
The turning point came after a trip to Mexico where, as always, he took photos, but when looking at them on his return he saw an added dimension. He showed them to a few key people which resulted in an exhibition and a book: Twenty Days in Mexico (2003). This was the point at which he decided that photography had come to be the center of everything, and was here to stay. For this photographer, the important thing is the relationship between the images and the discourse emerging from them as a whole. The idea of creating dynamics, a contrast to enable the telling of a story through that whole, is one of the key elements of his work. This is why he works in series, and why books strike him as the perfect medium for his work, the object that allows the “magical” relationship, in his own words, between the images: “It is a psychological aspect of photography that fascinates me”, he says.
Every day, the photographer goes out ‘on patrol’. He hangs the camera around his neck and walks through the city. “Deep down, I want to understand myself and understand the world. Going out ‘on patrol’ makes me aware of who I am and what I do. It connects me with the world”. Then he gets home and puts the photographs aside. He only looks at them again much later, from a distance. The project changes, grows and evolves. It is interminable. And the mind moves on to other things. Ideas jotted down in notebooks, to which he returns when a project comes to an end. “For example, innocence. The idea of how we can photograph it, if that is even possible. How innocence is lost, what it looks like,” he says emphatically. Another invisible concept that starts to whisper in his head and lead him away by the hand.
Fernando Maquieira won first prize in PHotoEspaña’s PHotoMaratón and third prize in the EPSON Digital Image contest of the Royal Spanish Photographic Society in Madrid, both in 2002. He was awarded a FotoPres07 grant from Fundación “la Caixa” (2007), as well as a grant from the Royal Spanish Academy in Rome (2008-2009). He was selected for PHotoEspaña’s Descubrimientos (Discoveries) in 2010 and was artist-in-residence at the Kaunas Photography Gallery in Lithuania in 2012. His work can be found in the collections of the Royal Spanish Academy in Rome, the National Museum of Anthropology in Madrid, the Museum of the Alhambra and Generalife in Granada, the Photomuseum in Zarautz, the Royal Spanish Photographic Society in Madrid, and La Maison de l’Amérique Latine in Brussels, among others.