NEW YORK 1992-2000
I am a photojournalist (Cantabria, Spain) graduated from the Basque Country University. Although I got my first professional job at a radio station, my love for photography made me move to New York City with the practice of photojournalism in mind. There I had the chance of learning from top photographers of that time (Meiselas, Webb, Plachy) and even working on some of their images at the Manhattan photo-labs (Duggal, Clone-a-Chrome, US Labs…) where I was initially making a living. I felt the big metropol as an irresistible invitation to document it. My photos on the Public Housing Projects took me to collaborate with the local City Hall in their campaigns on public safety and opened way for my long- term association with the photo-agency Impact Visuals. I started to travel: Middle East, Russia, East Africa, China… Along the decade, my work, mostly images but also stories, were published in Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, US News and World Report, Die Zeit or Cambio16 among others.
*All the images contained in these galleries below have been produced, without exception, by Francisco Lagüera Conde
With the new century, fatherhood pushed me back to Europe. After some time in Stockholm I ended up in Berlin, which eventually became my home. The German capital was boiling then with the process of reconstruction and being a documentary photographer felt like a fish in water. It was here where I realised the social potential of my craft, being immersed in photographing and promoting projects such as Lohmühle Wagenburg, a group of German artists who squatted a segment of the no-man’s-land left by the wall with the aim of creating a community, still going nowadays, based on ecology, performing arts and autarchy, both energetic and political. Or Afro-Karib-Express, an action I joined for years, bringing the work of artists into the classrooms of a German education system depressed by the poor relation between teaches and minorities. “Taking root in hard ground”, another project in the North of the country with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, got me close to immigrants of the former GDR and their struggle to culturally survive in the reunified Germany. From this point on, the immigration experience in Europe has been my main concern, even more since an assignment sponsored by Kulturwerk Bild-Kunst made me discove the Gibraltar Strait Region. Since then I assiduously work in the area, South and North of the Mediterranean, from my base in Almeria.
Almeria is a genuine border land: one of the main Southern doors of Europe and prodigal in unskilled agricultura jobs which makes the region a lure for poor immigrants. It’s quite normal, for example, that an African immigrant arrives here from the North, bouncing by the glittering northern cities, convinced that Almeria, yet tough and not-so-glamourous, offers at least a feasible way to settle on EU soil. Decades of continuous influx, plus authorities turning a blind eye on irregular work, has resulted in a society both highly diverse and with serious problems of intercommunication where a positive visual representation of the minorities plays a role. In this sense, I often photograph in El Pucle, a ramshackle neighbourhood on the skirts of Almeria city dwelled by Roma and Moroccan that, despite its bad reputation, aims to catch up with the European standards of this thriving Andalucian capital. Along this present summer I work in two fronts. One, Ketama Valley, a mountainous area North of Morocco, documenting the cannabis culture as part of a joined action with the Berlin Hemp Museum. Two, across Germany with the activities of Ratibor14, a Berlin art collective that uses an itinerant stage to create activism against gentrification.