Angel Albarrán (b.1969, Barcelona) and Anna Cabrera (b. 1969, Sevilla) have worked collaboratively as art photographers since 1996. A rich inner philosophy about memory and experience — and an alchemical curiosity for photographic printmaking — guide their aesthetic practice. Influenced by both occidental and oriental thinkers and artists, their photographs question our assumptions of time, place and identity in order to stimulate a new understanding of one’s own experience and perception. For the artists, “being conscious of our surroundings isn’t just an important part of life —our surroundings and how we interpret them is life as we know it.”
The question running like a thread throughout their work is how images trigger individual memories in the viewer. “We are particularly interested in memories. Our aim is to play with viewers’ memories and to construct a representation inside their minds. Our images are the bare bones of this mental construction.”
Angel Albarrán’s love for photography was inspired by his grandfather. A carpenter by trade, Albarrán’s grandfather created cameras for the photographers in his province before taking up the art himself. Anna Cabrera found her passion at age 16 when her father lent her his Voigtländer camera to take on an academic trip to Paris. Since beginning their collaboration, the artists have attended workshops, learning from such masters as Humberto Rivas and Toni Catany. They have deepened their personal beliefs through the world of literature and science, and through extensive travels in East Asia and Western Europe.
While inspired by literature, painting, film, science and philosophy, Albarrán Cabrera specifically employ the medium of photography to convey their worldview:
“Viewers interpret photographs subjectively by relating them to their culture, experience and memory. This means that as photographers, we can explain complex subject matter, or the relationship between various subjects, without using verbal language and its linguistic code. Instead, we use images and prints. We believe that photography can help viewers understand challenging concepts in a different way. A set of images creates a harmony between the viewers’ wavelength and our own. There is a gap between reality and what we understand as real. And photography (as Japanese dramatist Chikamatsu once said about art) lies in the frontier between the real and unreal, the true and the false. Thus, it helps us to “see” what is hidden from us.”
Albarrán Cabrera tirelessly experiment with a diverse range of printing processes such as platinum, palladium, cyanotype, and gelatin silver print. While often toning their darkroom prints with selenium, sepia, or tea, the artists also invent their own methods to add tonal depth to their artworks. The artists use hand-made gampi paper with either gold leaf or mica for their pigment prints that emit a radiance akin to Japanese silk painting. As Albarrán Cabrera have pointed out “this wide range of processes and materials serve a single purpose: to give us far more parameters to play with the viewer’s imagination than a mere image. The texture, colour, finishing, tones – even the border – of a print can provide the viewer with valuable information.”
Albarran Cabrera’s photographs have been exhibited in galleries and photo fairs in Spain, Japan, Switzerland, USA, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Lebanon, and Italy. Private collections and institutions that house their photographs include Hermès, Goetz Collection, Banco de Santander and De Nederlandsche Bank among others. They have also produced photographic prints for institutions such as Fundació La Pedrera, Barcelona; Fundació Toni Catany, Mallorca; Reina Sofía Museum, Madrid; FotoColectania, Barcelona; the Photographic Archive, Barcelona. They have collaborated with publishers such as Adelphi Edizioni, Mondadori Libri, Penguin Random House, Diogenes Verlag, RM Verlag and Ediciones Atalanta and companies/institutions such as La Monnaie De Munt, -Belgium’s federal opera house-.