There’s a haunting stillness in the images of ‘Country Fictions’, a project of Spanish photographer Juan Aballe. The photographic beauty coupled with its narrative excellence agitates me to some extent and brings to me a forlorn nostalgia. With an ever growing desire to leave my place for a quieter and colder abode, I connect with Juan’s subjects but I do not feel one with their detachment.
‘Country Fictions’ was shot between 2011 and 2013 in Iberian Peninsula and later got into a photo-book of even name. It deals with Juan’s “relationship with the rural environment and the emotions brought about by the possibility of taking the big step of leaving the city and living closer to nature. ‘Country Fictions’ also reflects on the photographic language itself and how we are influenced by previous representations and preconceived ideas about rural utopias. The illusion of escaping from contemporary society, the naivety and the hopes built around nature come together with the strangeness and the nostalgic look at a life that is not mine.”
Juan Aballe was born in Madrid, Spain in 1975. He graduated as a chemist and later decided to fully devote himself to photography and visual media. He studied photography at School of the International Center of Photography, New York city and did his master’s in photography from EFTI School, Madrid. His work has been exhibited and published internationally and he has been awarded grants from institutions such as the Spanish Ministry of Culture, EFTI, etc. He has lived several years in Germany and the U.S.A. and is currently based in Madrid.
Juan Aballe’s Artist statement - My approach to photography combines a documentary basis with a strong formal interest in the medium and its ability to generate open narratives. Taking reality as a starting point, I’m interested in how photography is capable of evoking emotions beyond reality itself and how the same limitations that define the photographic language allow it to create ambiguous representations whose final sense is given by each viewer. Having grown up in a very scientific environment, photography became a way for me to dive into the not measurable and emotional process of perception, into the spaces between fact and interpretation, between reality and imagination.
In his interview given to Fotografia Magazine, he tells about the ‘Country Fictions’ that it “has to do with “wanting to believe” in a better, simpler life, and I wanted the photographs to be somewhere between my preconceived ideas about rural utopias and a sensation of strangeness or detachment that was often stronger than the relief I expected to feel in those places.”
‘Country Fictions’ is a beautifully bound 80-pages hardcover book with texts in English and Spanish. It’s published by Juan Aballe and Fuego Books.
All photos © Juan Aballe - Website