I tried to photograph the mysterious, true, and magical soul of popular Spain in all its passion, love, humor, tenderness, rage, pain, in all its truth; and the fullest and most intense moments in the lives of these characters as simple as they are irresistible, with all their inner strength, as a personal challenge that gave me strength and understanding and in which I invested all my heart.
– Cristina García Rodero
Cristina García Rodero (born 1949) is a Spanish photographer based in Puertollano, Spain. She studied painting at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Madrid, before taking up photography. She then qualified as a teacher and worked full-time in education. For the next 16 years, she also dedicated her time to researching and photographing popular and traditional festivities – religious and pagan – principally in Spain but also across Mediterranean Europe. This project culminated in her book España Oculta published in 1989, which won the “Book of the Year Award” at the Arles Festival of Photography.
The same year, García Rodero also won the prestigious W. Eugene Smith Foundation Prize. The documentary and ethnological value of her work are considerable, but the aesthetic quality of her photography makes it more than a simple visual record.
In recent years, García Rodero has traveled around the world in search of other cultures with particular traditions. Over a period of four years, she went several times to Haiti, where she has documented voodoo rituals, producing a series of expressive portraits and moving scenes flanked by engaging documentary observations. Rituals in Haiti were shown for the first time in the 2001 Venice Biennale.
Cristina García Rodero has received many prizes, including the Premio Nacional de Fotografía in 1996 in Spain. Her work has been widely published and exhibited internationally. She has published several books and has been a member of the agency Vu for more than 15 years. Garcia Rodero joined Magnum in 2005 and became a full member in 2009.
The image shows a photograph shot in the desert of Nevada during the Burning Man, a festival of public art, music, and ritual when thousands gather and participate. Burning Man is an event held annually in the western United States at Black Rock City, a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada, approximately 100 miles north-northeast of Reno. The late summer event is an experiment in community and art, influenced by ten main principles: radical inclusion, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, gifting, decommodification, participation, immediacy, and leave no trace. The event takes its name from its culmination, the symbolic ritual burning of a large wooden effigy that traditionally occurs on the Saturday evening of the event. Cristina Garcia Rodero has documented the festival several times since the late 1990s.