Cover photo Femgrafía Index ©Teresa Aviedma (Teresaverso)
Interview with Karla Guerrero, founder of Femgrafia, as well as photographer and curator, about the project and women working together through skill-share.
When and why did you start Femgrafia?
I’m a photographer, digital curator, and cultural manager. Last year I decided to build this platform following my background and experiences within the photographic industry. Femgrafia is a platform for promotion and research on photographic work of emerging and established female photographers in Latin America and Spain.
Within the platform there are many sections:
Index – collective portfolio and archive, #hablemosdefoto (blog and open space to talk about photography on Twitter @femgrafiafoto)
Red Fotógrafas (a network of spaces and platforms sharing the same objectives)
Femgrafia builds connections, collaborations, and a community, through online and offline events.
What does the name Femgrafia mean to you?
For me it is – to write with images; dialogues, stories, words, from female photographers. Femgrafia is about writing with images and performing in unity, a word that can transcend not only through its looks but also its phonetics.
“For example, if you don’t have skills in writing and you need to give a supporting text for an open call, then ask someone that has those skills and give credit by introducing the name, or if you are represented by an agency or gallery, you know you are working in a team that supports you – why not share that experience with others that also want to find an agency?”
What do you hope for Femgrafia as an organisation? And what do you hope it will achieve?
I hope many things; more support, more unity between spaces and artists. As a native digital platform, Femgrafia aims to provide contributions to the study and analysis of photography along with the promotion and recognition of women photographers, developing new digital narratives with curatorial practices such as open calls, publications, and online exhibitions.
Why do you think photography, and especially women in photography, are important?
Photography is important because it is part of our visual culture, as photographers and spectators. Women in photography have always been part of it and the panorama is changing for us, I see more spaces and more women in the industry; I want more opportunities for women educators, students, curators, and photographers-artists. Because we also provide elements for the visual culture.
You are a photographer and artist yourself, who inspired you, your work, your vision of life? Why?
My personal work is highly influenced by the philosophical vanguard of Phenomenology in the behavior of the gaze, the interactions of oneself between objects, spatial explorations in experiences of transience and absence: memory, loss, and void.
I could say that my first contact with photography came up with the photos of my grandfather, he isn’t a professional, he was just passionate and built my family archive, with which I made a (little) intervention with my first personal and experimental projects (you can see it here: https://www.karla-guerrero.com/work ). Then at university I was conceiving more about photography and realized that it is what I want for the rest of my life.
My inspiration I guess comes from everything I see and read; I think my influences are more from the process of thinking of the image as a way of seeing it, or to remain in a phenomenological experience with things. Before I created Femgrafia, I was looking at portfolios and writing about photography for different platforms with major exposure in Latin America, now I continue with the reviews but I can say that I perform them in a different way; photography has been present in different parts of my life.
You are creating a kind of directory, a network of organisations working with women in photography, what do you hope this will achieve?
To create a contact and also a knowing for other visitors to the platform. Most of the photographers of Femgrafia came form Latin America and Spain, nonetheless, sometimes there are inquires from photographers from other locations and I think that language should not be a limitation. Knowing about other spaces and their community always could provide inspiration or referents. I see this network also as a bond between organizations because we all share the same objective of giving innovative, positive and diverse representations of and for women.
What kind of collaborations between women in photography would you like to see more of?
I would like to spread the idea that photography can involve more people. A photographer is always working on their own and it is OK, but what could happen if photographers see more opportunities for other professionals or friends?
I invite women to think about other possible contacts to help them achieve the project they are working on. For example, if you don’t have skills in writing and you need to give a supporting text for an open call, then ask someone that has those skills and give credit by introducing the name, or if you are represented by an agency or gallery, you know you are working in a team that supports you – why not share that experience with others that also want to find an agency?
In my works – when it is needed I asked for the proper collaboration. I preserve my original idea, I’m the director as well, but I don’t have all the required skills, an example of what I’m saying can be seen in my current project “Poetic Space Manifesto“. Out of nowhere I noticed I was building my team, and the result was more than I imagine.
This type of connection or collaboration gives others a way to have more exposure and get known to others and vice versa. Like a sort of exposure-chain.
You feature women photographers from Latina America and Spain. Would you be interested to feature work from our workshop participants who are older women? Or are you focused more on helping young women in the photo industry? Do you see uniformity in the voices that get through to the mainstream – race, age, gender, social/cultural backgrounds, etc?
I’m open to collaborate with diverse spaces. I’m more focused on emerging photographers, established and in this case, older women, are part of this. The age is just a parameter, I seek more learning from others, without distinctions.
What challenges have you faced with Femgrafia?
Many, the first one is to find a way to maintain the project accessible for everyone. But I guess, if you trust in what are you doing and it is reflected in the results, then every step might go in the same way. I do things with important values such as honesty, transparency, respect. I trust in this project and my community too, so for them and for me is how I continue working every day.
What is your vision for an ideal world?
To think about the meaning of “Unity” one + one. I don’t believe in hierarchy or something similar, I mean it should be a proper order but what I’m trying to say is that I believe every person has something to offer, to teach and learn.