Macarena Costan is an artist based in Bristol, England. She received a first-class BA (Hons) in Photographic Art from the University of South Wales in 2016, and is currently pursuing an MA in Photography at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol). Costan’s work has been exhibited internationally – at Pingyao International Photography Festival (China), Ffotogallery (Wales) and most recently at the Martin Parr Foundation (England). Recently, her work was selected as Commended Entry for 2019 Genesis Imaging Postgraduate Award. Costan’s latest work, Caliza, explores notions of femininity, identity and cultural traditions.
Several years ago, a member of my family found an old box full of negatives. They were made in the 1920s and 30s by my great-grandmother’s brother, documenting life in the south of Spain. When thumbing through this archive, I became captivated by a number of portraits made of strong women with powerful poses and poignant gazes.
Caliza references the characteristic limestone that is found in the Subbetic Sierras of southern Spain, where this work was photographed. Caliza is a strong and permeable stone, often composed of skeletal fragments of marine organisms. To walk amongst the mountains and villages forged from limestone is to read, almost on each fragment, both a living and symbolic history – one that is tough, resistant, resilient and layered.
Inspired by the archive, this body of work reflects on gender roles and cultural traditions. These images represent women through their own identity – highlight their strength and a control over repressive symbols. Located in Carcabuey – the small village where the archive was found – the aesthetic of this still very traditional place serves as an improvisational stage for my imagination. Caliza ultimately imagines a temporal and symbolic experience that envision a new present while simultaneously making reference to the past.
To view more of Macarena Costan’s work please visit her website.