Subida al Cielo

Subida al Cielo features five bodies of work by Galician photographer Lúa Ribeira made between 2016 and 2020: Subida al cielo, Las visiones, Aristócratas, La Jungla and Los afortunados [Ascent into Heaven, The Visions, Aristocrats, The Jungle and The Fortunate Ones].

In these five series, Ribeira approaches topics with a historical relation to documentary photography and representation, often within the context of institutionally constructed or held groups, or spontaneous anti-structures that emerge on the margins of society. Los afortunados takes place in Melilla alongside a group of young people in their journey to reach Europe from Morocco. In Galicia, Ribeira’s homeland, Aristócratas is made in collaboration with a religious institution that cares for a community of women with cognitive disabilities. Las visiones, made during a Semana Santa celebration, deals directly with Spain’s ancestral and cultural religiosity.

Despite their broad territorial scope, all five series are grouped and presented together — with no chapter separations between projects by virtue of their shared motivation: Ribeira’s attempt to put on hold learnt constructions and use photography to create spaces of encounter that can transcend structural separations.

The projects are also linked by their formal approach. In a highly conscious manner, within her image-making, Ribeira uses theatricalisation as a strategy to transgress prevailing political dimensions and removes the overwhelming context in which she has become immersed, allowing gestures and the human figure to take centre stage. This intent results in pictures that transcend the purely documentary and enter a space where the influence of mythological, archetypal and religious imagery resonates, especially in the representation of the human struggle. This is further evidenced by the sketches, pictorial reproductions and vernacular photographs that Lúa Ribeira collects as part of her process to study them as cues and precedents for her contemporary enquiries.


Throughout the book, the changes in space and time become dreamlike; as we settle in one place, the terrain quickly shifts to another, allowing new perceptions to emerge. ‘Subida al Cielo’ means ‘ascent into heaven’. It is an effort to sever our ties to the earth, to shake off the weight of our body and its gravity, to step outside ourselves and open the door to the inevitability of the unexpected.

The volume is accompanied by an in-depth essay by philosopher Carlos Skliar titled ‘The Fragile Look’.


Subida al Cielo
Lúa Ribeira
27 x 21 cm

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