The creative process behind the "Colonized" project:
I started working on my project "Colonized" towards the end of 2016, and the technique I chose is known as "transphotography". As its name suggests, transphotography means through photography. That is, photography is my base or vehicle. And, “through” images (most of them are of unknown authors, many which were found in Internet files). I try to explain, to convey or to address an idea, a concept, an emotion, even a sensation. What I seek is to arouse the observer’s curiosity; to awake his interest, and to make the viewer ask questions; what I want is to create a dialogue with the viewer. Are you colonized? Have you ever been a colonizer? What’s your identity?
Transphotography is a mixed technique that uses simple materials, like watercolor paper, ink, glue and rubber. By manipulating all these materials, I obtain the textures and finishes that characterize my work. Only at the end of this long process I obtain my print, to which I transfer an image fragment, and which will be part of the collage and the final work.
Time is a key element in the transphotography process: The past is represented by old pictures; the present, with the digital and physical retouch when creating the work, and the future lies in the effect that it will cause in the viewer. Little by little, colonized women find their identity, and help us awaken ours.
My creative process starts with the search of an image. This is a meticulous selection process among the millions of images that we can find in the Internet. Reusing, recycling, reinterpreting, even appropriating, are all basic concepts that I use when choosing and working with images that don’t belong to me.
For "Colonized", I look for old pictures of women, old images from the end of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th, right when photography was an innovative invention and still very rarely used. Some are portraits of women slaves, maids, mental patients, humble women, working women; others portray rich women with their luxury garments. But, what makes these women equal is that they all suffered some kind of colonization. I look for portraits that convey a woman’s soul, portraits that cause an impact, portraits that are able to explain who these women were and how they were colonized. Women fighters who were colonized simply for being women.
From that point I start the whole image process. First, I digitally retouch it (with Photoshop), then I resize the image, I add borders if necessary, I reframe it, I make all kind of changes in order to make it more powerful. Now comes the most important part: I start the process of “dignifying” this figure, this person. I dress these women with precious fabrics, fabrics that I found in books that specialize in the colonial era textiles, courtesy of the Museu del Disseny Tèxtil de Barcelona (DHUB). I add small fabric details in color, to add contrast and life to the image and, at the same time, to return the lost dignity to their figure and to what they represented. This a detailed work that calls for a fine-tuned technique to obtain a perfect integration.
At last comes the moment to create the final files, which I print in large-format color paper and then I transfer to watercolor paper.
Now I only need to reassemble the image, to stich all parts together and obtain a final image, the image of a Colonized woman who just recovered her identity.
Marta Fàbregas Aragall