The Galápagos are a magnet for photographers, both amateur and professional. The dramatic volcanic landscapes and unique animal life are sources of countless images at once iconic and personal to the photographer, largely as a consequence of the tameness of endemic species. Paulo Catrica (b. 1965, Lisbon; lives Lisbon) is a photographic artist who brought a radically different approach to his medium to the archipelago.
Catrica's photographs are of human architecture as landscape. His previous photographic projects have included series on UK new towns, Portuguese high schools and suburban areas across Europe - places of deep human purpose and practical aspiration. The works are always unpopulated, avoiding the anecdotal and illustrative depiction of daily life; they capture instead a tranquil essence of the character of places full of potential, waiting for something to happen.
Having carried out extensive research prior to his visit, he spent two weeks in the towns of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal. His aim was to record what he describes as the 'social landscape' of the archipelago, places where the built environment merges seamlessly into the natural environment.
Catrica's photographs document particular neighbourhoods on the Islands: a group of old hotels near the coast or La Cascada, a residential area in Puerto Ayora where since 1996 some of the newest and poorest immigrants from mainland Ecuador have moved. Catrica has written of this area, revealing something of the social purpose underpinning his artistic endeavour: 'La Cascada is a vibrant site, where people talk openly about the reasons that brought them there and praise the Islands as a non-violent place where the future seems possible.'