Response to An Imaginary Spaniard by Cristobal Hara
By: Akari Stimler and Zoë Gleitsman
Cristobal Hara’s book, An Imaginary Spaniard, consists of beautifully composed color photographs taken in Spain. The title seems to perfectly describe the photographs; many of the images have a very surreal and almost fantastical atmosphere. Another element of the book that adds to this is the fact that none of the photographs contain captions. The only information given on the collection of photos is that they were all taken in Spain between the years 1985-2002. Because there is no context to these images, the viewer is given the opportunity to imagine their own context for each situation.
The layout of the book is also well thought out. The large photos, which take up an entire spread, are composed in a way that makes each page look like its own image but at the same time, both pages create one whole scene. The spreads that have individual images on each page are well composed diptychs. The images either contrast each other perfectly or are similar in composition and/or subject.
There is a very central theme of death and religion to this book. Many of the photographs display religious iconography that is very common in Spain. A lot of the photographs also display this iconography along with a symbol of death, whether it be a wooden coffin with a cross or a statue of a bloodied Jesus on a cross in a store display window. These very serious themes are displayed in a peculiar way because of the color in these photographs. All the images are very highly saturated with deep shadows. This adds a level of intensity to the whole collection of photographs. When first looking at the book, we were thrown off by the contrast of the deep saturation of the images and the very dark subject matter.