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Interview: Lua Ribeira

Lua Ribeira is a Galician documentary photographer based in Bristol.

We exchanged a few emails discussing pushing people into bushes and why Instagram is like smoking.

  • What are your motivations to take photos beside expressing how you feel?

My motivation is to bring, to make pictures that are meaningful, good pictures, that make me feel something because I have not seen them before. I think this is an extremely difficult thing to do, and worthy to spend a life trying.

  • Your work asks a lot of questions of the viewer and in doing so create a degree of mystery that inspires. At the same time there is a sense of loss it appears like something is missing - this made me curios. Was this an intentional act.

Perhaps what you feel that is missing is the space for you to fill as viewer. It is completely intentional, because if it always happens it must be because it is intentional. Isn’t it?

  • Do you think that creating space to for the viewer to fill is the purpose of documentary photography?

I am not sure what is the purpose, I guess it is to fulfil a need. To me, photography is the way I hope I learn how to truly express myself as a person. How to say things.

  • Is this element of search and play an intentional element of your work?

I really do not like the immediate search for an effect from the work, for example in a community, or things like that. I think that makes us fall in a vicious circle of mediocrity and fear. The ethical thing, the guilty arrogance of the privileged.

Well, yes, I like to play, I think it is all about playing in a way and I also search, yes.

Excerpts from her new book, Noises in the Blood, exploring dancehall culture in Birmingham.

  • A lot of your work uses nature as a sought of anchor with which to contrast the subject or the location. Do you have an affinity/desire to understand human interaction with it?

I have a desire to keep myself confused in relation to other people. To have surprises; to feel that we are alive. I become very scared of some of the behaviours out there that seem to come out of Orwell's 1984.

  • What role do you see nature play in your work?

I am not sure about the role nature plays because I am always going to parks and trying to put people in bushes. I think what I really like is the power of that scenario to decontextualize.

  • Your work on Instagram expresses very different ideas to your professional work. It seems more personal.

I think my work is very related to the pictures that I choose to show in the Instagram account. The only difference is that on my Instagram account, I also include references and pictures from other artists, photographers and films, as well as some images taken with my phone when I am photographing.

  • What are your thoughts on the way that photography is processed/understood in the age of Instagram?

I think there is a thick stream of content in Instagram, in which very few images really interest me. But I look at it quite often, and do not think has any good effect on me. It’s like smoking.

  • Does the dispensary nature of the way photography is now consumed undermine the work gone into it?

No, I do not think so. But, I think the printed image is an important object. I think it is important to print images; to keep the physical dimension. It also depends on how you work and what your motivations are.

Find her other work here and on Instagram @lua_ribeira

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