Carlota Guerrero's erotic photos celebrate a surreal sense of femininity Favorite 



Apr 27 2021



From intimate portraits to urban performance art, the through line of photographer Carlota Guerrero’s work has always been her stripped back sense of feminine reverie: rumpled sheets and broken shells, translucent tights and long braids, dusty floors and bare chests. It was this aesthetic that caught the attention of Solange Knowles, who commissioned Carlota to shoot the cover of A Seat at the Table (2016) and to creative direct When I Get Home (2019), helping propel the Spanish photographer into the limelight. From there Carlota went on to help shape the image of many of our favourite musicians, from collaborating with Arca on KiCk i to working with Rosalía on an undisclosed film project. Now, nearly five years later, all of these iconic, career-making photographs and a number of new, never-before-seen images have been compiled into one place. Carlota’s new monograph, Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón (There Is a Dragon in My Heart), is out today.

**The book features images quite outside of the minimalism you described — for example, a striking ensemble of naked women amidst passersby on Las Ramblas. These are more maximalist, relative to what one might associate with your studio work.
**I felt really brave at that time — it was like a turning point. I had been portraying a lot of ethereal women in the studio. And at some point I was like: Why am I doing this? Why am I depicting women in this super conservative way when I'm not conservative?! I felt really strongly that I had to make a statement and portray very sexual women, but as respectfully as I’d done the ethereal women. I wanted to put them in the same jerarquía [hierarchy]. Las Ramblas is the most aggressive street in Barcelona. It’s a really intense space where women never feel safe. I don't walk alone there at night. So for me, putting that energy there was an act of bravery. Playboy had asked me if I wanted to do something with them, and I felt it was the right thing to do. So we created that performance.

**How does being based in Barcelona influence your approach?
**Everything is really raw in Barcelona — really lo-fi, relaxed. It’s easy to work here: it’s simple, small, calm, chill. Not having that much makes you creative with what you do have. The limitations of the city were a really good starting point, cause everything I put into my imaginario — into my world — was what I had, somehow. There isn’t this American ambition. There’s not this pressure of creating really big, complex things. Minimalism works really well here. Sometimes I see bigger brands trying to use that language, but with a lot of resources and a lot of money. They cannot imitate what you do when that’s really all that you have.

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Carlota’s photographs transform the Mediterranean context into something earthy and erotically charged through meticulous art direction and choreography. The images often reinterpret cultural touchstones, too, like Henri Matisse’s turn-of-the-century painting “La Danse” (in which women twirl together, deliriously) or Alejandro Jodorowsky’s avant-garde film The Holy Mountain (known for its violently surreal imagery and mysticism).