Gianluca Urdiroz Agati by Kate Wolstenholme 

Forced together in tutorials with surnames U and W, Gianluca and I became a strong team whilst studying Commercial Photography at Arts University Bournemouth, specialising in documentary practice.

I may be bias, but I believe Gianluca Urdiroz Agati is one to watch. Our graduate year (2019/20) brought a host of awards for Gianluca; winner of the Association of Photographers Student Award 2019, a winner of Portrait of Britain 2019 and shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize 2020.

Progressing as a photographer, Gianluca has found his style become more theoretical as a way of finding his own voice within his work and relying less on the voice of his subject matter to speak for him. I caught up with him just after he finished his master’s degree in MA Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at The University of Westminster.

Gianluca Urdiroz Agati Subjective Symptoms woman dancing

Born in Pamplona in the North of Spain with an Italian mother and speaking Basque, Gianluca describes himself as both Spanish and Italian. Gianluca’s heritage has had a strong influence on him becoming a documentary photographer, with the conflict between nationalisms of Spain and Basque. Growing up with political tensions led Gianluca to want to explore socio-political topics and listen to people speaking on one issue from various viewpoints.

The work Gianluca has submitted to The South West Collective is his latest project, created for his final major project of the MA and of a subject we all know too well: lockdown. There have been few events in humanity where a documentary series could be created and the viewer, whoever they may be, is able to understand and feel connected to it instantly, without the necessity of words. Gianluca says: “I can only explain them as odd…they are saying something I cannot verbalise.”

Gianluca Urdiroz Agati Subjective Symptoms covid lockdown, man in duvet
Gianluca Urdiroz Agati Subjective Symptoms covid lockdown

Gianluca’s project Subjective Symptoms, takes a look at the aspects of being confined to our homes due to an invisible threat, from dreams and freedom, to a simple hug. The mix of documentary images and constructed compositions combines both the physical reality of lockdown and the mental struggle it brought many of us.

Gianluca Urdiroz Agati Subjective Symptoms stacked shoes

The monotony and simplicity of lockdown, with no sense of time and a continual sense of being trapped, is conveyed in the decision to place the images in black and white and crop them to square. The singular image of the outside world reminds us of how little freedom we had (and many still do). For many people without an outside space, a glimpse of nature on their daily walk, was it.

We see singular ideas and items within each frame, reflecting the idea of our isolation. Our isolation led to a strange dream-state, where the world was almost paused, and our minds ran wild. Gianluca says how he ‘‘mixed the idea of dreams – this state you enter because you lose the idea of time, with the most intense part of the day is maybe featured in the dreams. When most of the day we are not doing anything, this has to be expressed somehow, and that is when we have these weird dreams’’

Gianluca Urdiroz Agati Subjective Symptoms man in bathroom

Gianluca is soon to be returning to Spain for a residency placement at Fabrica Research Centre, working together with a handful of other creatives. He has in mind several projects based around the idea of returning to his hometown after four years studying in the United Kingdom, so watch this space…

Gianluca Urdiroz Agati

All images used by Gianluca Urdiroz Agati


Instagram: @gianurdiroz

Article by Collective Contributor, Writer and Photographer, Kate Wolstenholme

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