Subida al cielo: Lúa Ribeira's Ascent Into Heaven
The five bodies of work that Galacian photographer Lúa Ribeira draws from for his book Subida al cielo approach topics with a historical relation to documentary photography and representation, often within the context of institutionally constructed or held groups, or spontaneous anti-structures that emerge on the margins of society.
Los afortunados takes place in Melilla alongside a group of young people in their journey to reach Europe from Morocco. In Galicia, Ribeira’s homeland, Aristócratas is made in collaboration with a religious institution that cares for a community of women with cognitive disabilities. Las visiones, made during a Semana Santa celebration, deals directly with Spain’s ancestral and cultural religiosity.
Despite their broad territorial scope, all five series are grouped and presented together — with no chapter separations between projects by virtue of their shared motivation: Ribeira’s attempt to put on hold learnt constructions and use photography to create spaces of encounter that can transcend structural separations.
The projects are also linked by their formal approach. In a highly conscious manner, within her image-making, Ribeira uses theatricalisation as a strategy to transgress prevailing political dimensions and removes the overwhelming context in which she has become immersed, allowing gestures and the human figure to take centre stage. This intent results in pictures that transcend the purely documentary and enter a space where the influence of mythological, archetypal and religious imagery resonates, especially in the representation of the human struggle. This is further evidenced by the sketches, pictorial reproductions and vernacular photographs that Lúa Ribeira collects as part of her process to study them as cues and precedents for her contemporary enquiries.
Throughout the book, the changes in space and time become dreamlike; as we settle in one place, the terrain quickly shifts to another, allowing new perceptions to emerge. ‘Subida al Cielo’ means ‘ascent into heaven’. It is an effort to sever our ties to the earth, to shake off the weight of our body and its gravity, to step outside ourselves and open the door to the inevitability of the unexpected.
Subida al Cielo is published by Dalpine.