The project entitled Contemporary Mudejar imagery aims to refresh the set of symbols and memories associated with this artistic and cultural phenomenon, moving beyond mere architectural elements. It proposes researching and reflecting, from an image-focused perspective, on the relationships that the inhabitants of these places have had not only with the monuments here, but also with the landscape, traditions, trades and even construction materials, which reflect a true attachment to the region. This initiative has afforded a new perspective on previously existing visual heritage, creating and integrating a contemporary new ‘level’ in the set of references that have up to now defined what Mudejar means.
The first phase of the project dealt with the state of the art, entailing a review of all the photographic archives held by diverse local entities and agents in order to construct new stories that help spread the importance of images in 21st century communication and serve to teach about new visual languages that can be used to transmit a new way of “being Mudejar”.
The second phase of the fieldwork was linked to the project entitled Mapping Local Identities, selected by the Ministry of Culture and Sport in the 2019 call for proposals on Cultural Industries for the company Ad Hoc Gestión Cultural, in which photographs of local groups of residents were collected. Collection activities took place in several towns: Cervera de la Cañada, Belmonte de Gracián and Tobed, but their effects were also felt throughout Territorio Mudéjar over the internet and the social media, thus not only generating virtual feedback but also prompting short trips and meetings, which aid in “community-building”. More info at: https://www.cartografiadeidentidadesrurales.es/
One of the conclusions reached in this research is that a specific methodology must be developed for collecting family images in rural settings in order to recover the history and “intra-history” of these communities in an effort to make the cataloguing process more “professional”. Furthermore, the study indicates that it is necessary to move beyond the concept of vernacular/popular photography as a mere instrument of documentation and memory, to view it as an instrument for the construction of identity and the projection of certain values for the future. In addition, it paves the way for building a network across municipalities through which to exchange knowledge about images, compare them, find similarities and strengthen the sense of identity within Territorio Mudéjar, while also establishing and reinforcing the link between people and their Mudejar heritage, appealing to their shared past.
LINE OF RESEARCH: This project can be categorized under two lines of research: (1) New Perspectives on Mudejar Art and (5) The role of heritage in society.
THE AUTHOR: Irene Ruiz has a PhD in Art History, a Bachelor’s degree in fine arts, specializing in photography, a degree in architectural engineering, a Master’s in restoration and a diploma in business. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Polytechnic University of Turin, combining this work with her activities as a professional photographer. More info: https://polito.academia.edu/IreneRuiz