We recently told you about Riu Avall, a photobook that caught our attention. Riu Avall is an accurate portrait of the Llobregat River by Barcelona-based Basque photographer Yosigo (San Sebastian, 1981). Starting from there, we began digging deeper into his work to discover a very different look where the spaces we inhabit and uninhabit gain a new dimension, almost personifying themselves. We were also fascinated by other projects he carries out with his inseparable friend, the also photographer Salva López, from the inspirational Have a nice book to the photo album of their apartment Rocafort153. We then decided we wanted to learn more about their world and their personal way of looking at it; about who was hiding behind those prolific and pristine analog snapshots, some of them with a poetic air. Here is the result of a surreal and fun meeting in Poblenou, with people who came up to speak to him and pose in photographs, and where we met Jose in the flesh.
Riu Avall is an accurate portrait of the Llobregat River by Barcelona-based Basque photographer Yosigo (San Sebastian, 1981)
What does a Basque like you in a Barcelona like this?
I’d been toying with the idea of leaving Northern Spain for a while. I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to study video and I moved here for a few months. But a few months became more and more until I finally I settled here.
Maybe your MartínParriana-like passion for mass tourism has brought you here?
Not precisely. I suppose mass tourism is one of the least interesting things in this city; there’re tourists everywhere at all times. In Donosti there’re many tourists in summer mostly, so for us is not that bad. Here the only way out is to avoid crowded areas and Las Ramblas as much as possible.
Spaces are a constant in your photographs, which you always portrait either abandoned or crowded. What is the most unusual you’ve seen so far?
Last year we were scouting for locations for Riu Avall and found many interesting abandoned spaces. What struck me the most is that in most cases these spaces are usually intervened, so from Llobregat up, there’re real wonders: deteriorated places that, for whatever reason, are not used by people and which are exactly like the last day they were used. Perhaps the most unusual place I’ve photographed is an abandoned amusement park in Artxanda (Bilbao).
In your work, photography and graphic design come together in a very subtle and dramatic way. How do you combine them? What’s the leading discipline?
I came to photography through graphic design. I guess I acquired certain vices when composing and understanding space. But I think over time that influence is fading away, becoming less present.
What happens at Rocafort, 153? And why is it the apartment with the most beautiful light in Barcelona?
I’d say it’s the messiest apartment in Barcelona many times, especially the kitchen, even though we hardly use it. I share with my friend Salva López, who is a photographer too. We came up with the idea of doing a project on the house, the lights and everything related to it, a place that is gradually taking shape. And yes, the light here is pretty amazing.
Your work is so “massive” as some of the places you portray. Do you sleeping with your camera under your pillow?
Interestingly, last year was by far the year I used my camera the least. I only took photos related to the Llobregat project. It’s great because you focus on one topic and devote all your energy to it, but I think (at least in my case) you lose spontaneity. This year I’ve reloaded analog cameras to shoot anything that catches my attention. I may not have any long-term projects, but I’m much happier.
If I’d followed Yosigo for one day, were would I go? Do you devote yourself exclusively to photography?
We’ve recently rented a study in Poblenou, so lately my daily life consists in coming and going to the studio. If I’m not in the studio, I’m taking pictures (or slacking around).
People are intrigued. ¿Yosigo? Where does this pseudonym come from?
After finishing my degree, instead of looking for a job I decided to try to do something with my hobbies (graphic design and photography). The truth is that at the beginning, as it usually happens in all beginnings, what I did was pretty bad. My father writes poetry and dedicated one to me for my birthday a while ago in which he talked about how I’ve always been persistent in everything that motivates me. When I was a kid I sucked playing football and all my good friend, and my parents encouraged me to try other sports, but I told them: “Aita, I keep playing football because I like to do so”. And the same went with many other things. The poetry said that with that “Yo sigo” (I’ll go on), I got many things, many friends and many experiences, and that with photography it would be the same. It went on saying that if it really was what I wanted, that I had to continue doing it as I did with the things that really motivated me. My father is a fucking master.
What motivated you to do Riu Avall the Llobregat? Will there be a second part with the Besòs River, the other repudiated one?
Second parts have never been good! [Laughs]. The River Project has been good, a kind of journey without traveling, trying to know what happens not so far from home. But as I said before, what I most want now is to shoot around without much sense or coherence; to recapture that magic of letting yourself be surprised by what surrounds you without searching for stimuli related to a specific theme.
What are you into now? Have you got a new project in mind?
Right now I’m lucky to be working a lot, which is fine, but takes away time for your most personal work. The idea of moving to a studio is still my priority right now, although I want to recover Have a Nice Book, which has been in standby for a while. I want to continue with my blog Rocafort153, to update my journal and to develop a couple of ideas that I have in mind. Slowly but surely.
Who does Yosigo follow?
In Have a Nice Book we post books that we like and that inspire us. Otherwise, I like to let myself be surprised and find things where I least expect to.
Here you can say what you want…
I’d like to say hi to my grandmas, my sister and my nice. Barcelona is cool but they’re not here.
Can you tell us some of your favourite songs at the moment?
Here is my March playlist…
Your favourite places in Barcelona?
Near my place I like Piccolo for breakfast (the potato omelette is brutal!), and Una mica de Japó for lunch.
Those selfie sticks…
You never thought you’d end up…
Living off what I like doing.
Being happy doing what you like doing.