Mònica Figueras (Palamós, 1988) is a photographer raised in Palamós who is inspired by Empordà and professionally based in Barcelona. She is obsessed with colors and nature. She knows how to find the kitsch point in almost everything. Instinctively, she likes to let go and to work with models who she knows – ideally, with her little camera and nothing else. When she can, she photographs nude people running through nature.
2021 / 06 / 15
I’m not much of a talker but I’ll try …
Whenever I have seen you take photos, it has seemed to me that you do it in a very instinctive way. No method. Is that so?
Yes. In the end that is my method. I find it difficult when things are fixed … like in adverts. There, everything has to be coordinated, because there are several of us working on it . But I work best when I am alone and I let myself be carried away by what my body feels. Then I find the “why”. First I feel, and then I analyze and find the concept. This sometimes goes against the requests of some clients, but I adapt to my surroundings. I work best with as few people as possible and with the freedom to create.
Like in our [Maus] photoshoot; you told me that you let yourself go and photographed a lot of breasts…
Yes, hahaha, of course, that’s what happens to me …The model you see in the photos is a friend of mine and I immediately found myself feeling very comfortable. But of course, I am “in the zone” and suddenly I think: this is a commission! Maybe I’m messing it up? I didn’t put a bra on her at any point …I didn’t realise until I developed the photos. This has an advantage: I don’t censor myself. But what also happens is that I stop thinking about what I am doing, and this has consequences …
We liked it, it shows that there is freedom.
Yes, that’s right…
Empordà. You shoot Empordà a little idealistically; kitsch but beautiful.
Sure, I have a vision of the place. I’ve been here my whole life (Palamós). I’ve had my friends over to my flat all my life – the ones from 0 to 16 years old – and people are surprised because it is a beach flat, for a summer vacation. A flat on the beachfront. We were the only ones who lived in the block all year round. I come from a family of fishermen, people of the village. This has influenced me. I have my own vision of Costa Brava. I don’t pay attention to what tourists pay attention to – it’s not better or worse, it’s different. I experience the arrival of tourists, the campsites …this kitsch. Barcelona tourists don’t see this … but they see other things.
You take pictures of us … You act like a mirror.
Yes … and I laugh at myself. I laugh at how tacky we all are. Myself included. Tourists, campsites, swimming pools … But I also like capturing the locals, the fishermen. Finding places which – I don’t know why – are not considered pretty. And when I’m in Barcelona I hardly ever take photos. When I create, it is never in Barcelona. Nature inspires me a lot; the city is a big effort for me. I am obsessed with colors and Barcelona is very grey. In Barcelona there are many inputs but the colors are not there.
You always photograph women.
I identify with women and connect with them more. I am more comfortable. I could easily photograph a guy. Now I am realising that I work better with people close to me, than with models who are imposed on me. If I know who I shoot, I can explain more things with the photos. I’m always trying to connect with people before a photoshoot. If I can, I try to meet up for a beer and find out who I am working with before shooting. To have a connection…this moment over beers is very important.
“If I know who I shoot, I can explain more things with the photos.”
This is cul.*
This is ass, haha, a play on English words. “Cul” as in “ass”, and cool as in cool. It all starts with three friends running in the dunes of Fuerteventura. After running naked and taking photos of them, they explained what they felt to me. They were abashed but they felt so free and happy running naked in nature … I liked the idea of starting a project where people ran naked in nature and explained to me how they felt. And I would like this to lead to an exposition or a book. For me, this is freedom. I made a call through Instagram in which I asked whoever wanted me to photograph her ass write to me. At first it’s tough, but then it is very liberating. You know…I’ll put you and your children on the list! I don’t close myself off to anybody, man or woman … authentic bodies.
*This is a play on words with the English word “cool” and the Catalan word “cul”, which means “ass”.
Who would you like to see on a MAUS® label?
Coco Dávez. I think she does something similar to what I do with my photos, but she does it with illustrations. The other is Martin Parr. Maybe it’s too much…but it blows the mind.
Book, album, film or TV series.
Book … well one that I’m reading now, The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm. I’ve been listening to The Blaze a lot lately. And for a film…anything by the French film director Mia Hansen-Love.
INTERVIEW: JORDI CLUSELLA
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