Analog photography

In search of a better, simpler life: Juan Aballe and the rural utopias

Juan Aballe Country Fictions Cover

 

Juan Aballe (Madrid, 1975) started working in the darkroom while studying chemistry at the universities of Madrid and Berlin. After graduating as a chemist, he decided to fully devote himself to photography and visual media.

He studied at the school of the International Center of Photography (NYC), and obtained his Master in Photography at 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 or Fundación Botín.

He has lived several years in Germany and the U.S.A. and is currently based in Madrid.

Juan Aballe Country Fictions Main

About ‘Country fictions’:

We search for years,
we imagine our future in better places
where we could start over.

We leave the city behind
travelling for miles and miles,
driven by hopes and dreams.

Maybe there was once a countryside,
a village with green and fertile meadows.
Now we return to find only
the remains of a disused scenery.

We pursue a fiction,
that of a peaceful rural life.
We search for beauty in a landscape
where we do not belong,
where time seems to have stopped still.

We live our own transition,
our fragile utopia,
trying to understand
what we are doing here
and who we are.’

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These images are the result of a series of travels to different rural areas and scarcely populated regions of the Iberian Peninsula.

As several close friends began to think about moving to the country, I was confronted with the idea of leaving the city myself and starting a new life closer to nature.

In Country Fictions, reality and my imagination come together to deal with my distant relationship with the rural environment and the emotions brought about by the idea of taking that step. These photographs are the visual expression of an inner conflict that has to do with wanting to believe in a better, simpler life.

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In what could be called a collection of daydreams, Country Fictions 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 myths and hopes built around nature come together with the strangeness and the nostalgic look at a life that I might never live.

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My approach to photography combines a documentary aesthetic 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. I believe the same limitations that define the
photographic language allow it to create ambiguous representations whose final
sense is given by each viewer, thus diluting the border between reality and fiction.

Having grown up in a very scientific environment, photography became a way for
me to dive into the emotional process of perception, into the spaces between fact
and interpretation, between reality and imagination.”

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