These iPhone edited images communicate the tension of cross-cultural identity
After being sold her first camera by her sister’s ex and attending a nude photography workshop at the age of just 15, Laura Carrascosa Vela Vela came to realise the political and educational power that photography can provide over any other artistic medium. Marrying the worlds of hardline education and artistic exploration, inspired by her background in philosophy, Carrascosa’s interest in portraiture comes from a desire to explore Spain’s subcultural landscape.
The Madrid-based photographer’s latest project sees Carrascosa Vela Vela immerse herself in the city’s chiñol, (someone that neither identifies as Chinese or Spanish – or/and identifies with both at the same time), community through making multiple trips to Madrid’s equivalent of Chinatown. Fascinated by this sense of fragmented heritage, Carrascosa Vela set out to capture the “the hopes and aspirations of middle and low-class Chinese immigrants, their identity and the transformation of their neighbourhood.”
Lifting the project away from what could be perceived as voyeurism and more towards a genuine representation of a community, Carrascosa Vela giving models complete control over the final edit of the image.
“When I sent one of the models her image, she didn’t recognise herself. She said she would delete the original photo and provide me with a new retouched version, altered through an app called Meitu Xiu Xiu.” Carrascosa Vela continues, “I would love to convey my passion for human relations and, at the same time, the sadness that comes with failing relationships or an inability to fit in.”
Allowing one portrait-sitter to run their image through a Chinese editing app after she wasn’t happy with the final image, the surreal result perfectly encapsulates the tension of existing across two communities while feeling at loss with dual cultural identities.