This exhibition, Jorge Ribalta’s first retrospective, traces the evolution from the illusionistic staged photographs he began taking in 1987 to the “documentary photography” he embraced in 2005 and continues practising today.
In 1941, Orson Welles conceived It’s All True as blend of documentary and docufiction, a feature film comprising three different segments that told three stories about Latin America. Cancelled halfway through production, the documentary has been the subject of numerous debates and was recovered by Richard Wilson in the 1993 feature It’s All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles. This documentary, a genuine fieldwork exercise about a narrative, is closely related to Ribalta’s working method and to the conception of the exhibition now being presented at Fundación MAPFRE: the show offers a chronological survey of the artist’s entire career, simultaneously revealing and concealing aspects of a history that is often “fabricated,” a construct typical of the language of photography and, in fact, of every artistic medium.
Ribalta’s images – mainly shot in black and white on analogue film – are the product of rigorous and nuanced observation. In his work, the artist roams across the changing landscapes of our late capitalist era. Ribalta’s oeuvre is both a record and a somewhat humorous critique of the culture and cultural artefacts with which we live, a cross-cutting commentary on art, politics, economics, labour and history.
The exhibition includes 14 series created between the late 1980s and 2020, as well as four projections and documentary material that offer a sweeping overview of Ribalta’s work.