One of the most in demand photographers in the world, Spanish photographer Carlota Guerrero exploded onto the scene with her iconic portrait of Solange Knowles for the artist’s music album A Seat at the Table in 2016. Since then Guerrero has been producing work from photography to performance art working with a diverse selection of women including Rupi Kaur, Naomi Shimada and Madonna’s daughter Lola Leon and has also collaborated with renowned brands and designers including Givenchy, Nike and Dior.
Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón is the first book of Carlota Guerrero’s photography and is an important record of her evolving style as well as a compilation of her visual obsessions. A self-taught photographer, tastemaker and storyteller for a new generation, Guerrero is one of many artists redefining the aesthetic look of the 21st century. Guerrero’s unique style and eye has hugely influenced the lens we see women through today and her influence can be seen everywhere from Instagram to online fashion retailers. Her work reflects a modern, progressive and body confident vision of a post MeToo feminism where femininity and female sensuality are celebrated instead of exploited.
In addition to the 260 powerful colour photographs, Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón also features texts by some of her renowned collaborative partners including Rosalía, Rupi Kaur, Paloma Lanna, Teticia Sala and Alejandra Smits.
Carlota Guerrero’s unique blend of feminism, nature and performance has resulted in a body of work that is both subversive and ethereal, classical and distinctly individual. In turns dreamy and unflinching, her work explores ideas of femininity and gender, nature and human connections, the female body, patterns, and the Golden Ratio. Guerrero’s photography signals a young artist increasingly at home in a chaotic world and poised to take on whatever comes next.
Referring to her perseverance, persistence and initiative, the book’s title translates to ‘I have a dragon inside my heart’. This unique monograph showcases Guerrero’s early work, when she was just discovering her talents and her passion for photographing women in nature; stills from a performance piece that wowed at Art Basel Miami; a collaboration with poet Rupi Kaur; pictures from her project documenting the transgender community in Cuba, and more.
Who is Carlotta Guerrero and how do you define?
Carlotta Guerrero is an extremely sensitive person who uses art as a forum of healing, balance and harmony
How do you feel as one of the most in demand photographers in the world?
I feel very humbled by this question. I am grateful when someone connects with my language. When a client and I have the same point of view and we can collaborate to create bigger things. I am very lucky that people connect with my work because it’s genuine work.
How did the collaboration with Solange Knowles happen and how was this experience?
We spent months working together, traveling from New Orleans to New Mexico, Austin, Dallas… in a van, shooting for A seat at the table and years later for When I get home. We also went to New York to shoot the cover for the album. I was very inspired from her way of working from the beginning. She is such a strong, talented, hard-working woman. She has a very strong and clear vision, but also gave me the space to have a strong and clear vision, and taught me about the BLM movement in great depth. I will be forever thankful to her.
You have worked with a diverse selection of women including Rupi Kaur, Naomi Shimada and Madonna’s daughter Lola Leon and have also collaborated with renowned brands and designers including Givenchy, Nike and Dior. Talk to me about this experience.
All these women, big personalities, and big clients have been crucial moments in my life. When I connect with someone with a lot of power and together we create something bigger than we could have done in separate and individualistic ways. Each time it has been a very beautiful learning process, sometimes very challenging, but I am always proud to say that finding a brave way to face situations is always the way to learn the most.
How would you define your art?
My art is an inventory of images that come to me, I cannot rest until I make them happen.
How did you come up with the idea of the book “Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón”?
The book’s title translates to ‘I have a dragon inside my heart’ and it means perseverance, persistence and initiative. This book is an essay about my repetitive patterns, and I curated it by tracing a map of them.
From documenting the transgender community in Cuba to performance art at Art Basel Miami, what else shall we expect to find in your debut fashion photography book?
You can expect in my book is a conversation between images themselves. Every image has connection with next image and so on. The book is like a cycle that starts and ends at the same point and unifies all my work in one big image.
How did the MeToo movement, female sensuality, gender and body expression inspire you?
It’s something genuine and instinctive. Being a woman is my condition and starting point. I start exploring from what I know, from what I am most familiar with – myself. My self-love doesn’t differ, or shouldn’t differ, from my love for other women. I feel an infinite admiration for the woman’s figure, her power and presence fascinate me.
I once photographed the trans female community in Cuba and I understood more than ever the feminine energy; a woman with a very masculine aspect (that had very few resources for transitioning) awoke in me the same energetic connection as an old friend of mine would. To me, to photograph is an honour, to celebrate and to thank everything that I learn from them. And the stairway, the idea of the infinite stairway of women being carried by other women from immemorial times, transmitting and passing on knowledge and intuition.
Also, the body and nudity are very interesting to me. Clothing is something that separates my lens from the subject that I am portraying and adds a layer of information that sometimes I do not want to decode. If I want to portray somebody’s essence it is easier to portray them naked.
What areas did you want to explore with this photography book?
Fractals, connections, mantras, eternal ideas.
Do you think there is enough queer representation in the art scene?
There is not enough representation in the queer community in art scene. We are working together to normalise queer and to represent this community in a respectful and beautiful way – with dignity.
What was the process of making the book like?
I photograph similar compositions, subjects, and scenarios over and over – without thinking. I realise later on, this behaviour makes me think of a blooming orquid that doesn’t know she is doing so. I make compositions when I am thriving, I am those compositions – and many times I feel like I don’t choose them, they choose me.
Who are your inspirations and the people you admire?
It is an infinite list! I admire my mother and sister and the women that have been with me together raising me and supporting me. That’s where I get main inspiration, in the real love I can find in my life – in nature and it’s patterns.
What shall we expect from you in the future?
I hope photography will take me to a lot of experimentation, meeting new artists, exploring new spaces and creating new communities.
*all images are courtesy of Carlota Guerrero
Carlota Guerrero’s debut photography book Tengo un Dragón Dentro del Corazón is published by Prestel on 27th April 2021 here.