In our new series of interviews with extraordinary individuals, see our Gregory V. Diehl feature here, our guest today is the excellent visual artist and photographer Tania Barrenetxea from Bilbao, Spain.
Our paths crossed back in 2018, just before I went live with Destinosophy and began to refine my upcoming book.
Slim pickings - until I arrived at Tania Barrenetxea's image ‘Prelude to Destiny’.
So I checked in with almost all agencies, searching high and low for truly unique and exciting photography, reflecting themes of mythological and modern fate and Destiny.
Her powerful, daring and vibrant photo art interprets an ancient East Asian legend and its symbolism anew. And, from her personal point of view, she addresses both challenges and promises all eternal concepts of fate and Destiny have to offer ever since the time before time.
HELENA LIND: Welcome Tania, I’ve been looking forward to our interview.
TANIA: Thank you Helena, it is wonderful to be here.
LIND: Would you tell us a little bit about your history and background?
TANIA: I’ve always loved art but never expected to become an artist. In fact, I have a master's degree in engineering and I work on environmental projects. I didn't discover photography until my twenties. I never even had a camera! At that time, I used to write gig reviews for online magazines and I started to take pictures as part of the job.
My journey begun when I discovered fine art photography.
LIND: What made you decide to go for it and become a photographer?
TANIA: It happened by chance. I’d always thought that photography was meant to capture reality. When I discovered a type of photography that could depict our innermost worlds and emotions, that really fascinated me. And still does.
Soon after, I went through a tough period dealing with depression. Self portraiture became a dialogue with myself, a way of rediscovering and bearing my reflection in the mirror again. With time, photography became for me a kind of visual resilience and a deep need.
LIND: What is the story of your unique style?
TANIA: Thanks, but I think I am still finding my own style, as I create freely with anything that comes to my mind, whether it fits my previous work or not. Sometimes the photographs just reveal themselves to me. I am still experimenting a lot.
Usually, I create from a vulnerable place, so my style basically reflects traces of my personality. This introspective journey becomes a symbolic narrative of the fragility and complexity of the psyche, reflecting our wounds, fears and desires.
I am a big dreamer.
And I tend to create close but also ethereal images between the real and the imaginary worlds.
LIND: How did you get where you are now?
TANIA: Though I started taking photographs some years ago, I can say that I'm still a newbie. I have created very sporadically until recently so I am still finding my own voice.
LIND: What are your dreams and goals?
TANIA: Fine art photography is a really tough world. But it is what really moves me. My goal is to create images that put my voice and thoughts out there. And that this somehow helps other people the way art has helped me through hard times.
A real successful career from creating fine art images is tough, but I know that I will never stop to try and get to that point.
LIND: And I am absolutely certain that you are going to succeed. Mark my word. Please tell me about your inspiration for your gripping Prelude to Destiny series?
TANIA: The series is based on the ancient legend about the red thread of fate.
Threads have a deep symbolic meaning and represent Destiny in many cultures.
According to a Japanese legend, the Gods tie an invisible red cord around the little fingers of those who are predestined to meet each other in a certain way. Those two people connected by this thread will have a major story, regardless of place, time or circumstances.
The red thread of fate represents the ulnar artery which goes directly from the heart to our hands and from our little finger extends to the world to complete its journey into other people's hearts.
This thread might get tangled, contracted or stretched, as it often happens, but it can never break. It creates a predestined path in a maze of personal encounters.
What captivated me most about this myth was that, unlike the Western myth of soulmates that focuses on romantic partnerships, this legend talks about all the people that meant to play an important role in our lives, it may be family, mentors, friends..., and the intricate tapestry of strong relationships we create across our lives.
LIND: Kindly lead us through each of your six artworks, their meaning, mythology, and your personal views?
TANIA: I usually don't like explaining too much about my images because it can distort the personal dialogue between the image and the viewer. I love how different people read the images according to their own experiences and the different meanings they can get.
The magic of art is precisely how it speaks to each one of us in different ways.
Let me give you a quick overview.
The series is currently composed of 6 images but it will grow in the future. I am still working on it. All the images are based on the same myth and on the idea of Destiny, but each of them tackles it from a different approach.
1. PRELUDE TO DESTINY is the first image that introduces us to the series. We sense that we are predestined to something or someone but we still don't know where the red thread will lead us.
1. Prelude to Destiny ©TANIA BARRENETXEA
2. PLAY PRETEND talks about the people that play with relationships, even more in these days of soul and experience consumption. Those people could play an important role in our lives, however, they just play around with their threads.
2. Play Pretend ©TANIA BARRENETXEA
3. ASPHYXIA is a very straight image. Sometimes the idea of something being predestined and thinking that situations must be a in certain way, simply because it is our fate, can be really suffocating.
3. Asphyxia ©TANIA BARRENETXEA
4. VOLITION questions the previous approach. What part of our lives is fate and what part is in our hands to change? This is a recurring human question.