Photographic Alphabet: C is for Macarena Costan
Macarena Costan is an artist and photographer based in Bristol, England. She received a first-class BA (Hons) in Photographic Art from the University of South Wales in 2016 and is currently pursuing an MA in Photography at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). Recently her current project, Caliza, has been recognized as a commended entry of the Genesis Postgraduate award 2019, shortlisted for Athens Photo Festival and selected as one of the winners of Flash Forward 2019. Costan’s work has been exhibited internationally – at Pingyao International Photography Festival (China), Fotogallery (Wales) and most recently at the Martin Parr Foundation (England) – and has also been regularly commissioned for diverse commercial and editorial contexts; Macarena’s work has been selected to be showcased in diverse online and paper publications as PH Museum, F-Stop, and Yogurt Magazine.
She is interested in the creative possibilities and continuous expansion of a vocabulary of photographic vision.
Her latest work, Caliza, explores notions of femininity, identity and cultural traditions.
Several years ago, a member of my family found an old box full of negatives. They were made in the 1920s-30s by my great-grandmother’s brother, and documented life in the south of Spain. I was particularly amazed by a number of portraits made of strong women with powerful poses and gazes.
As an artist who is interested in gender roles and cultural traditions, I have created a series of photographs inspired by the archive. I highlight women’s strengths, their control over repressive symbols and their self-determination, with the main intention of representing women through their own identity. The project is located in Carcabuey – the small village where the archive was found – with the aesthetic of this still very traditional place serving as an improvisational stage for my imagination. In a sense, I am creating a temporary and symbolic experience that shows the present, but at the same time makes reference to the past.
Caliza – the project’s title – references the characteristic limestone that is found in the Subbetic Sierras of southern Spain, where these works have been photographed. Caliza is a strong and permeable stone, which is often considered organic as well since it is composed of skeletal fragments of marine organisms. To walk through these limestone mountains and villages is to read, almost on each stone, both a living and symbolic history – one that is tough, resistant, resilient and layered.
To see more of Macarena’s work, visit her website here.