Paula Abreu Pita

From the series Buena Vista 504
©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504

May’s featured photographer is Paula Abreu Pita

Paula Abreu Pita was born in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1984. She began her photography studies at Roberto Mata Taller de Fotografía in 2006. The same year she starts painting at Taller de Arte Elías Serpa. In 2007 earns an Honours Degree in Social Communication at Universidad Monteávila, Caracas. In 2008 she gets a certificate in Art and Design at the University of The Arts, London. In 2009 she earned a Masters degree in Advertising and Fashion Photography in Madrid at the Escuela de Artes y Espectáculos Tai. She had her first solo show Peças da Madeira in July 2010 and in 2011 her second show Entre Águas de Portugal in Caracas. In 2013 she earned her Master´s in Fine Arts at Pratt Institute, where she had her first solo show in NY, Buena Vista 504. Abreu Pita has exhibited in New York City at Photoville 2014, First Street Gallery, Rush Arts Gallery and The Greenpoint Gallery; in France her work was included at the Exposure Awards 2015, Louvre; in London she was part of the Renaissance Photography Prize, Getty Images Gallery; in Moscow her series “Hotel Monte Rosa” got Honorable Mention at the Mifa Foto Awards, Fotoloft Gallery; in Portugal she was a finalist at the Ei Awards 2015. Paula currently teaches photography at PhotoUno Photography School in Manhattan and she lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Buena Vista 504

Buena Vista 504 is a portrait both of my maternal grandmother in Caracas and of the large house she has lived in for 60 years, after having immigrated from Portugal. There, alone with her maid, visited occasionally by her adult children and her grandchildren, she maintains a quiet routine in this big, carefully ordered space, separated by a high wall from the dangerous neighborhood that surrounds it. In the back is a greenhouse with plants she tends and a courtyard where she has recently started raising chickens. A matriarch with a strong personality, she is content to stay home in her domestic solitude. Her house is a refuge from a society in turmoil and a family that has grown up and moved on.

Buena Vista 504 is part of a larger series of my own family environments that include a now-closed hotel in downtown Madeira (Portugal) and a cinema that were once owned and managed by my grandfather, a vacation house on the same island and a house in Lisbon. Themes of displacement and transition recur, as the history of a family is traced and witnessed. A sense of immediacy in the clear embrace of circumstances as they are found mixes with a regard for the past and its resonance in the environments maintained but left behind.

©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504
From the series Buena Vista 504
©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504
From the series Buena Vista 504
©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504
From the series Buena Vista 504
©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504
From the series Buena Vista 504
©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504
From the series Buena Vista 504
©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504
From the series Buena Vista 504
©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504
©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504
From the Series Buena Vista 504
©Paula Abreu Pita. From the series Buena Vista 504

Interview with Paula Abreu Pita

Paula, what is your photographic story?

Well, my career as a photographer began at the Robert Mata School in Caracas in 2006. Around that time, I was studying social communication at Monteavila University. Most of the projects we did were audiovisual, they could be short films, documentaries – a lot was on offer at the university, but for me it was always photography, I always had a camera. This was how my passion for photography developed. I then went to London for several months to study English and began integrating myself into the art world. I took a course at the University of London and from there I went to Madrid to do a Masters in photography at the TAI school. From then everything seemed to come into focus. I then went back to Caracas and began working as a photographer for the TV channel Venevisión for a while. After working there I began working freelance. Whilst in Madrid I had the idea of going to New York to do a Masters in art, concentrating on photography. I first went back to Venezuela for two years and applied for my Masters there. I then I got into Pratt and began my Masters in the Fine Arts with a major in photography and I am still there.

How did your project, Buena Vista 504 come about?
Buena Vista 504 began during my photographic studies here in New York. I began visiting Caracas. The project started in August 2012 and at the time I hadn’t been back to Caracas for at least a year. When I finally returned I visited my grandma’s house where I used to go every week and at weekends to eat. I think that it was the first time I’d been back since my grandpa died. I felt as if the house was really missing something. It felt much more empty and I felt a sense of nostalgia, one could say an anticipated nostalgia, like the space could disappear in a moment. Maybe it also comes from imagining the moment when my grandma will no longer be there or maybe because of the country’s current situation. The house is located in the middle of one of the largest and most dangerous neighborhoods in Caracas, called Petare and because the situation in the country is worsening, my uncles want my grandma to move for reasons of safety.…Of course, my grandma does not want to move right now because she has lived in this house since the 1950s, so she has been there for roughly 60 years. It’s hard for her to move from this house that my grandpa built after they emigrated from Portugal all those years ago. Coming back to Venezuela and starting to think about this house, how it may disappear one day, is how the project came about. This prompted me to examine it and record it, photographing these spaces and seeing them in different ways, with a distinctive outlook. When I was little there was a period where we lived at my grandparents’ house for a couple of years. This was how I started to photograph these spaces and experience feelings specific to this this space, which also influenced my first project.  I also photographed other interior spaces that belonged to my family such as my series “Hotel Monterosa”, in Madeira, Portugal. The hotel belonged to my grandpa and in December 2011 I went to Madeira and entered the hotel for the first time since it closed. The hotel operated for many years but it closed before my grandfather passed away. This feeling that he wasn’t there anymore evoked a lot of memories of him walking the corridors or having refreshments in the bar and well….From there my interest in photographing these spaces and trying to capture them developed, spurred on by the knowledge that at any moment they might no longer include family members and remain only as a memory.

Throughout your photographic career you’ve documented domestic spaces in a poetic way and have sometimes felt a detachment or melancholy whilst working. Have you photographed things outside of domestic spaces?
Mmm, yes, I have. In fact I began photographing such things when I first started taking photos. My work was quite graphic and I photographed landscapes and exterior spaces until I arrived at what I am currently doing. I was recently producing photographs in August at a residency I did in Cape Cod. All of them were landscape and the majority were exterior spaces, which I’m still working on.

Do you find photographing exterior spaces quite different?
Well, it is distinct and at the same time it isn’t. I would say that for me it actually could be both things. In the beginning I can be thinking about a project and I’m looking for a way to represent these ideas. The majority of the time it’s simply a visual attraction. It’s like – I’m a lover of colour and I think about things that inspire me and from there I always find an idea. Therefore, I can look for exterior spaces that say what I want to say. This process also occurred, more or less, with the series I am currently working on, from which I have many photos. I always go out prepared with my equipment and I think about the sequence of what I want to say with my work.

On a different note, do you think that living in New York has influenced your photographic work in some way?
Yes, absolutely. I think that because this was the first place I studied art, perhaps this is where I learnt how to give form to my ideas. Also we live in a city with thousands of projects and jobs that you have constant access to. Also knowing photographers and the work of other people is very inspiring. Although the majority of my projects have been pursued here, there have been projects I have made in other places such as Venezuela and Portugal where I have undertaken two projects. I have a couple of projects that began here in New York as well, which I continue to work on. So yes, it has definitely influenced my work.

Finally, are you currently working on another photographic project?

Yes, I’m working on a series I started working on last year in August which I eventually want to make into a book. I also have other projects in mind that I want to do here in New York. I have ideas which are more or less connected with my series of artificial plants. I am obsessed with flowers and artificial plants, so I’m going to begin working on that this year.

To see more of Paula’s work, here.


La fotógrafa del mes de Mayo es Paula Abreu Pita

Paula Abreu Pita nació en Caracas, Venezuela, en 1984. Empezó sus estudios en la fotografía en el  Taller de Fotografía Roberto Mata (2006). El mismo año empezó a pintar en Taller de Arte Elías Serpa. En el 2007, obtuvo su licenciatura en  Comunicación Social en la Universidad Monteávila, Caracas. En 2008 fue otorgada con un certificado en Arte y Diseño en la Universidad de las Artes, Londres. Posteriormente, en el 2009 obtuvo un masters en Fotografía de Moda y Publicidad en Madrid en la Escuela de Artes Espectáculos Tai.

Ella tuvo  su primera exposición “ Pecas da Madeira” en Junio 2010 y en 2011 su segunda muestra “Entre Águas de Portugal” en Caracas. En el 2013, obtuvo su Masters en Bellas Artes en El Instituto de Pratt, donde obtuvo su primera exposición  en Nueva York, Buena Vista 504.   El trabajo de Abreu Pita ha sido exhibido también  en Nueva York en, el Photoville (2014), First Street Gallery, Rush Arts Gallery y The Greenpoint Gallery. En Francia su trabajo fue incluido en el “Exposure Awards”, en el Louvre (2015). En Londres Pita fue parte del “Renaissance Photography Prize”, Getty Images Galeria. En Moscú  su serie Hotel Monte Rosa recibió una mención de honor en los Premios de Mifa Foto, Galeria Fotoloft y en Portugal fue finalista en los premios Ei (2015). Actualmente Paula enseña fotografía en la escuela de fotografía, PhotoUno, en Manhattan y vive y trabaja en Brooklyn, Nueva York.

Buena Vista 504

Buena Vista 504, es un retrato de mi abuela materna en Caracas y de la casa en la que vive desde hace sesenta años después de tener que inmigrar de Portugal. Allí, sola  con su criada, es visitada de vez en cuando por su hijos mayores y sus nietos. Ella mantiene una rutina tranquila en este gran espacio y cuidadosamente ordenado, asimismo, separada por una enorme pared de el peligroso barrio que la rodea. En la parte de atrás, hay un invernadero con plantas que cuida y un patio donde recientemente empezó a criar pollos. Una matriarca con una fuerte personalidad, está contenta de quedarse en casa en su soledad  doméstica. Su casa es un refugio de la confusa sociedad  y de una familia que ha crecido y tiene su propia vida.

Buena Vista 504, es una parte de la serie  de mis propios ambientes familiares que incluyen un hotel (ahora cerrado) en el centro de Madeira (Portugal) y un cine, ambos fueron propiedad de mi abuelo, quién también los regentó ,una casa para las vacaciones en la misma isla y una casa en Lisboa. Los temas de desplazamiento y transición se repiten mientras que la historia de una familia está trazada y presenciada. Un sentido de inmediatez en la clara aceptación  de estas circunstancias que se encuentran mezcladas con el recuerdo del pasado y su resonancia en los ambientes mantenidos pero dejados atrás.

Entrevista con Paula Abreu Pita

Para ver más el trabajo de Paula visita su página, aquí.

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