metropolis dedicates a very special monograph to the artist Isabel Muñoz.
Isabel Munoz He is one of the figures of Spanish photography. Born in Barcelona in 1951, she lives in Madrid, the city she moved to when she was twenty. To the National Photography Awardwhich he obtained in 2016, and both World Press Photojoined in 2021 on Photoespaña Award and has recently been chosen member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. The jury’s ruling highlighted, among the reasons for granting him this last recognition: “his commitment to photography and the visual arts. Looking at people and the planet, and denouncing the difficulties, but always with optimism”.
The work of the Barcelona photographer explores the human body in its ritual and diversity. She combines social commitment with a relentless search for mystery and beauty, making use of traditional techniques such as the ancient platinum process.
This monographic chapter of metropolis has shared time with the artist to delve into some of her recent series: in the installation from where and wherelocated in the Roberto Polo de Toledo Collectionwhere Butoh dancers address existential issues, and in we are wateran ambitious generative art project that could be seen at the Lazaro Galdiano Museum and in the oceanographic of Valencia, which alerts us to environmental deterioration.
In addition to knowing these two works in depth, this chapter reviews emblematic series such as: Japan, Trees, Mythologies Y primates, among other. And the highlight of the monograph is the filming of the development procedure of a platinotype, accompanying the artist throughout the process.
The trip to Japan and the Butoh dance
“When someone like that lets you connect with their soul, you enter a kind of trance that others would define as a rush of endorphins. It is something physical, yes, that does not need words, the complicity that is created between those bodies and my camera, which in those moments is my soul.” (Isabel Munoz)
The artist, in love with the rituals and spirituality of Japan, waited many years to be able to reflect this universe with the depth it deserved. “Japan was in my imagination since I was a child. In 1993 I tried an approach to these Butoh dancers. But in 2016, thanks to an exhibition organized by François Cheval in Kyotographie, I began to get closer to them”.
in the video creations “From where and where” that are exhibited in dialogue with the Islamic and Mudejar architecture of the headquarters of the Roberto Polo Collection In Toledo, the photographer investigates scenes of the creation of the world through the aquatic movements of the dancers of butohartistic dance from Japan that was born after the nuclear disaster in 1950 and that is capable of transforming pain into essential beauty. “I went to photograph the choreographies of a dance and found that Butoh is a socio-political movement. In the 1950s, a circle of Japanese artists felt the need to break the spiral of pain. They stripped down, covered themselves in ash, and took to the streets to dance and perform, and love each other regardless of gender.”
The images recount the emergence of life over seven days that run in seven minutes of video. Creatures of indeterminate shapes emerge out of nowhere, such as the movements of this underwater dance. In the words of the artist: “It is a kind of void that communicates with nothingness, which is probably what we are, the place where we come from and where we are going: the inexplicable nothingness.”
Under the “oven vault” of the Mudejar chapel, next to what the artist considers her self portrait (unpublished photograph printed on glass on gold leaf), the artist shows and explains the installation of three screens forming a semicircle in which the myth of Eve and Adam is interpreted: the principle of good and evil, light and darkness . In the center, like a Pantokrator, a pendulum as a tuning fork of life.
we are water
“What are we going to leave our children and grandchildren if we are not capable of taking care of their treasures, if we continue throwing plastic into the sea that are deadly traps for the species that inhabit it?” (Isabel Munoz)
In the Pardo Bazán room of the Lazaro Galdiano Museum (Madrid) the powerful immersive installation could be seen until the end of summer 2021: we are water, curated by white berlin.
The unpublished photographs of the Japanese freediver’s dives stand out for their beauty and poetry Ai Futaki in the aquariums of Oceanographic of Valencia.
This interactive installation, framed in PHotoSPAIN 2021 It is designed as a multisensory experience in which, in addition to enjoying the impressive and poetic images made in the Oceanográfico by the artist, she uses a technological device with which the public can interact. Among the technological elements, a five-meter-wide screen that will react to the movements of the spectators stands out. In addition, side screens will project games of lights and sounds typical of marine environments.
In this project, Isabel Munoz denounces the lack of social commitment in the face of global warming through a plastic look at one of the media most affected by the climate emergency: the sea.
On these seabeds, the half-naked dancers interact with jellyfish, rays, turtles, sharks, algae and anemones, seahorses… and plastic. The message is forceful: the sea is polluted and it is necessary to stop this deterioration that is also affecting the global warming.
The magic of the laboratory
But if there is a magical moment in this chapter of metropolis It is the filming made with the artist in her laboratory, where she shares her searches and technical learning, for decades, to find a concept of beauty that perfectly blends the sublime and the disturbing; the mystery and the essential.
All the work of Isabel Munoz contains a deep search for spirituality. With enormous generosity, the photographer has allowed metropolis delve into the alchemy of his laboratory and observe closely his particular journey from darkness to light.