Tabata Roja is a 23 years old self-taught photographer based in Mexico City. Her vast preoccupation in the domain determined her to experiment obsessively with analog photography (lomography in particular) and even start formal studies in chemical photography.
On Her Art Process and Aestethics
“I am crazy about the idea of how the emulsion will react to certain conditions of light and processes of development. I can spend hours in a dark room. […] During most of last year I concentrated on trying to emulate old photographs and paintings, but in the last months without realizing it, I began to change the way I see things through the camera and to experiment with frames, processes of development and the way that took a photo, approaching one more step to the search of my own aesthetic.”
Her take on female nudity and eroticism is bringing the all-time taboo subject closer to general acceptance, yet the innovation comes with the insightful perspective of a woman. Exhausted of seeing women captured by the male eye, she frankly calls her artistic process a “search for an eroticism from the point of view of a woman”.
“For a little over a year and a half, my work has focused on eroticism and nudism, because these are issues that have disturbed me since I can remember”, Tabata says. “But it was not until relatively recently that I took my camera and began to explore them through it. I realized that eroticism, nudism and women have always been seen from a male point of view.
Yet Tabata Roja asks for a eroticism rebranding, so to speak. She considers approaching the subject without tainting it, keeping its essence and getting rid of the profane in the process. “I seek the resignification of the naked body and the woman”, she states for Vogue Italy. “[I demand] a definitive rupture with the idea that the naked body always has a sexual implication and reconciliation with human forms in their most natural state”.
On Her Self-Portraiture
As a simple observation, we all see things differently, and react differently at the subjects. As a male photographer you’re severely tempted to capture a woman’s curves, to sexualize her image. And who could blame you? She’s laying nude in front of you, waiting to be photographed. And what is eroticism about, if not about sexualizing? Right?
After trying to figure out herself through capturing other subjects, Tabata recently discovered it’s probably more effective and truthful to just turn the camera in the opposite direction. “I have recently begun to explore these issues without limiting myself to third parties, making self-portraits, in order to understand these issues in a much more intimate way and to discover myself in them.”
It seems like most of artists nowadays crave after the idea of resetting, of going back to the source, to the very fresh start. And that’s only because so much garbage stuck to our feet while evolving, and we absorbed it, and it’s now part of us.
On Her New Series
Her most recent series on film give to black & white photography the reputation it deserves. Shot on Earl Grey 200 and 50 mm respectively, her new photographs move a bit to the dark side, leaving behind the colorful flowers, the classical furniture and the Cuban or Mexican heat (as seen in previous series of pictures).
You can sense Tabata Roja’s mark on each of her artworks: candid figures, often with a cigarette attached to their fingers, intimate clime, femininity caught in its corner, surrounded by scattered light and smoke. You can almost smell them, you can almost touch them.
Her nudes don’t reveal the body as much as they reveal her subjects’ states of mind. They think, they own personalities, they have a life of their own. The message that the artist tries to transmit is that the model is more than a mix of shades, shapes and curves caught by the lenses. It’s almost like the main purpose of nude photography would be to undress their souls and their past, not their bodies.