Tabata Roja, is a photographer from México. She shoots film and is obsessed with memory, light and the human body.
How did the idea for the series come about?
For more than a year and a half all my work has been concentrated on a personal search; I realized that everything I had seen and read about eroticism and nudity was said by men, even when the author was a woman she had a certain amount of male view, and so began this journey to deconstruct my schemes, prejudices, habits and the way I see these topics. This series is part of that personal search, but with the passage of time I realized that it was not only a personal concern and that my photographs were helping my models with their self-perception and empowering them, the project evolved and now it’s not just about helping me understand me, but also about helping and empowering them, most of my models never did nude photography before.
Can we photograph the female body differently in a more powerful way?
Of course we can, leaving aside the idea of woman-object, we are not just a set of curved lines, volumes, lights and shadows, we are not just a body. I think the nude is intimate, vulnerable (and not in the sense of weakness, vulnerability is beautiful and fragile), and feminine (but not in the sense of standards of how a woman has to be or look). I believe that every woman has her own femininity and that this could be translated as its essence. For me it is very important to know a little about my models to be able to identify what is their essence or their own femininity and then I´ll be able to make photos more transparent and faithful to who they are. My photos are about my models, not about their bodies. Nude is a narrative tool and a statement.
What inspires you?
I think what inspires me the most is cinema, I love the Czech new wave (Vera Chytilova is a genius mind and my favorite film director), the French new wave (if you have not seen a movie by Agnès Varda, leave what you are doing and run to see one!) and experimental cinema, I spend a lot of time every week watching movies. I also love to read, from biographies of characters such as Ingmar Bergman, to film essays and film theory, but also about photographic theory as Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes and photographic technique. I also enjoy painting, especially Impressionism; I think this explains my need to create photographs with a certain level of melancholy and yearning; I like to call photography ‘the machine of memory’. I am a faithful believer that the more knowledge you have, your horizons become wider and the inspiration can find you in a simpler way, your cultural vagary is your best friend.
How would you define beauty?
It is somewhat complicated to define something as abstract and subjective as beauty; I think I could say that it is a kind of harmony between background and form, the visual does not compete with ‘what it means’, but complement each other. Something that can not be explained but can be felt, putting it in other words I think that beauty is something that generates an aesthetic experience and touches something inside.
Film or digital?
Definitely film. I do not like being on the computer fixing things that I could not solve at the time of the shot, I do not like the idea that my work is somehow something intangible, I need to have the negative in my hands and I hate the need for the immediacy for absolutely everything. I’m a purist, obsessive and romantic, I love the physical and chemical nature of photography, I love the behavior of the emulsion, the hours in the darkroom. I think everything in the picture must be created and thought of at the moment of the shot, I also enjoy the infinite possibilities of development and the effects it creates, it seems incredible how you can emulsify surfaces and make pictures in unexpected ways, without needing a sensor, as if you were a kind of alchemist.
What makes you happy and what’s next for you?
What makes me happier directly and indirectly is photography. Thanks to photography I have met fascinating people, I met my life partner, who shares the same passion that I have for photography and also I have known myself in a better way, my environment and my life in general. I live one day at a time, in all aspects (emotional and monetary, like every emerging artist haha) and it would be very inaccurate to give some answer on what I think it follows, the only thing I’m sure is that the road I’m taking is the one that has made me grow more as a human and as an artist, and I will continue along this path.