ana galan – viv(r)e la vie!

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Ana Galan

Viv(r)e la Vie!

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Viv(r)e la vie! is a photography series in process, consisting of photographs of couples in profile with a landscape of a countryside in the background, snapshots which evoke the Diptych of the Duchess and Duke of Urbino by Piero Della Francesca.

The concept depicts the two contrary principles, masculine and feminine, which are found in an embrace as a symbol of the partnership, the unit and belonging, the union of two planets which find themselves in the same line of gravitation. In this movement, we discover the meaning of life. As well in its coniferous landscapes, the series recreates the representation of the power of vital force, of immortality.

Viv(r)e la vie! consists of 15 photographs, of 15 couples which meet in order to dance every Sunday in a community center. This series pays homage to those people who continue to live in the moment.

I began the series Viv(r)e la Vie! in Guadalajara, Spain, with the idea of putting together a set of series of 15 couples in different cities around the world, between 1 and 5 series in each continent and subcontinent. Couples of a certain age, people barely seen socially, but who have not stopped living life fully and whose close relation is photographed in the Sunday outing dances of the community centers of their area.

The photographs give visibility to people which, for a certain time, have lacked such visibility. This series, at the same time, documents the cultural diversity that exists between different cities and countries. All of this is seen through the behaviors and gestures of the dancing couples, in the relationships between man and woman and in the roles assumed by each of them, they also narrate each selected territory.

The second series of Viv(r)e la Vie! was developed in the American city of Philadelphia from June 7 to 27, 2011 thanks to an artist residency I have been granted by the Philadelphia Arts Hotel.


Ana Galán was born in Madrid in 1969. After receiving her degree in Economics, she completed an International MBA, which entailed studying in three different cities: Oxford, Madrid and Paris. In the last two courses, she wrote a thesis addressing “Speculation in Plastic Art”.

Since 1993 she has combined her passion for photography with her profession, attending various courses and workshops in Paris and Madrid, such as EFTI’s Master of Fine Arts in Photography, and since then has participated in several collective exhibits and photography projects.

She works as the marketing director for a magazine in Madrid, and lives between Guadalajara and Paris.


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Ana Galan


161 Responses to “ana galan – viv(r)e la vie!”

  • Nicely stated, Bob Black…

  • Both Ana Galan and Mikel Bastida are using reconstructions to tell their stories. Mark Power has an interesting primer on this technique, here:

    I first came across this concept in Jeff Wall’s “The Complete Edition”. Power attributes the first photographic reconstructions to Sally Mann; David and Rembrandt also made use of this approach in their historical paintings of both contemporary and past events. Religious paintings can also be viewed as reconstructions. The list is long to be sure, but it is a relatively unused technique in photography.

    Like Wall, Galan is using a particular painting as a take-off point. It is best not to look too critically at how this essay departs from the Duke and Duchess; yes, Francesca most likely didn’t use flash (!), but I don’t think Galen’s medium format film could have captured the dynamic range in the painting otherwise. And, while we are at it…most likely Francesca’s eyes couldn’t see at f22-64 the way Ana’s camera does, even though you wouldn’t know it from viewing the painting.

    Reconstructions can be made from a painting, as above, from history (Bastida), or from life (again, Wall…Crewson as well). It seems to offer an enhancement of a moment (Mann), and can be wondrously utilized in photography. Jeff Wall never shoots “street”, but will capture a moment from there in his imagination, and then recreate it later under his rigidly controlled direction.

    To me, reconstructions tend toward the academic, intellectualized, and introspective aspects of photography. There is a stripping of the non-essential, leading the viewer to come up with their own story, interpretation, and associations. Galan does this here, I think, and holds back in her written introduction on her reasons. Perhaps it has something to do with the way Piero Della Francesca – in positioning the Duke and Duchess level and eye-to-eye – predates the equality Galan shows us today with her dancers.

  • That’s why I love ya Michal!

  • In retrospect, I should have made one comment only, and it should have stated:

    “Simple, elegant and beautiful.

    “This essay has been sitting out there in plain sight since cameras were invented, just waiting for someone with the vision to find it. Ana did. In all that time, I doubt that anyone else ever has – only Ana.

    “Congratulations, Ana!”

    I apologize for engaging in silly little fisticuffs that accomplish nothing.

  • I apologize for engaging in silly little fisticuffs that accomplish nothing…….not to all it gave me an insight into your ability to know how others think……..if you think something is beautiful then we all must also see it as beautiful otherwise we are missing something

  • Oh oh! This essay sat in my head as I tried to sleep last night. In fact, I got up and had another look.

    I appreciate Bjarte Edvardsen’s reaction – “It evoked some glorious and optimistic feelings about the future in me.” I get that. I really do.




    Cannot think of a valid reason to ever look at these again. Not out of hate or spite…but just out of complete disinterest.

  • Somehow, John, when you state it as you do, you cause me to smile and chuckle. It must be your delivery.

  • The first 20 times I saw this essay I had the same reaction as most of the negative comments, for the life of me I just could not appreciate it, let alone enjoy it. In the end I just sat back, took it as it is… A very simple idea which depends totally on the look of love between each couple…
    The flash look is awful, even if it has been created on purpose…the back drop is always the same, gets soooooo boring and maybe that’s the point… I won’t ever buy a book on it but it has grown on me… But that has nothing to do with the photographer at all, only because of the love between these couples.

  • I looked at these pictures several times, did n’ t really do anything for me I am affraid. I will keep looking and maybe they will grow on me..

  • Strange how these repeated viewings affect our opinion. At first I didn’t like it much because I thought it was cruel, but as time went by I began to appreciate the naked cynicism of the piece. Getting these people, most of whom clearly hate each other, to embrace and look into each others’ eyes and then taking it to an altogether different level by claiming that to dishonestly pose for the camera is the meaning of life and immortality — well, that’s just brilliant. Just goes to show how easy it is to miss the point, eh Bill…

  • Just want to jump in here for a quick comment….


    “Lighting designers and directors (god forbid they get involved with lighting!) – like architects and interior designers – THINK they have the light figured out, but not for the camera, by an EXTREMELY long shot. I have to hunt and peck, just like anyone else in “real” low light situations.”

    Not to minimize what you do, I also shot theater for about 5 years as the house photographer for a regional theater… The lighting designers DO have the light figured out, for the audience. They are not lighting for television or stills. They are lighting for the human eye. They can give two shits what your camera sees.

    And while shooting in these low light conditions can be challenging, as long as a photographer does their homework by going to rehearsals before the final shoot, they have the luxury of knowing that the actors will do the same thing over and over and over….. Makes it a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.

  • MW…
    Not arguing at all with your view on the essay, I’m really curious where you see the cynicism and how these couples clearly hate each other! I can’t look at the essay right now, as I’m out with my mobile but I must admit I can’t wait to get back home and look at with ”new eyes” and see if I can feel your point of view. However I must admit I did not get that feeling once yesterday :)!! Must admit I did find the women clearly much more reserved with their look and embrace than the men, who like all men are born hot and with sex on the mind and never change until passing away.

  • MW – What I am most impressed by is that you have taken the time to give this essay all these repeated viewings – and then to think about it, and to come up with a cynical yet plausible and fun theory. Up until now, I had viewed the essay just once. After reading your latest comment, I decided that I had better view it again. And, actually, looking at those pictures a little closer, in some of them, I do see faces that seem to hate, despise, or perhaps wearily tolerate the other. But I also saw some that struck me as love. Real, genuine love.

    I am amazed that Ana was able to take all these people, put them in a field and then pose them in such a way as to bring out an expression of love, whether genuine or faked. I couldn’t do it. I don’t think many could.

    And yes, as Paul stated, the women tend to appear more reserved than do the men, perhaps, as he observes, because the women are tired of decades spent fending off the advances of the poor men who only want to do what God made them to do and then the church folk came along and said “you better not do that, because you’ll offend God if you do,” and after the babies fought their way out of their wombs, the women said, “Enough! Enough! Enough already! Let’s dance, and pose in a field, and get our picture taken with a flash and see what people have to say about it.”

    Anyway, even if cynical, your interpretation is a fun one.

    This does it for me on this one. In truth, I am in the middle of deadline and for some reason am finding it harder than usual to face up to it. What I have really been doing here these past two days is finding ways to avoid facing that deadline. One of those ways has been to come here and rant, to attack poor Michal in an unjustly vicious way and to give Imantz a chance to dig up the old, irrational, baseless, grudge that he insists upon carrying and to vent a bit himself.

    That’s what I’m doing right now – avoiding that deadline. But, damn, I have made commitments. I’ve got to put food on the table. I’ve got to face that deadline, and the three that follow rapidly behind it. It is so bad that I have put my blog on hold – I just put up my final post until September 15. I am thinking about putting all my internet distractions on hold, especially that sometimes fun but always huge time-waster, Facebook – but even Burn – or at least Burn comments. I will keep reading and viewing every Burn essay, but if I can resist, I will put commenting on hold for as long as my blog is on hold.

    So… see you in September… when the summer’s through… unless I lose you… to a summer love…

  • Oldest trick in the book view something repeatedly one starts reading things that are not there like the advertisements “Where do you get it.” ……….. Where do you get it. Where do you get it. Where do you get it. Where do you get it. Where do you get it. Do you get it do you get it Where do you get it. Where do you get it. do you get it……………….eventually you get something but by then it is just a distortion

  • It is really a pre-shoot for a advertisement of a retirement village. The people are deliberately made to look plastic hence younger without the photoshop tricks or plastic surgery thus emphasising health and a long life. This plastic look is easily obtained by setting a canon camera on the factory default setting, further enhancing the mass production I want to be different just like you look. That good old homely contented happy cow next to the red barn look. While the images pay tribute to the work of Chuck Close and his white American monied middle class images and 3d forms the underlying meaning is the shallowness of society………………. Don’t be fooled as the real message is “Don’t squander your money on your childrens’ future give it to us……………. etc and so on do you get it do you get it do you get it do you get it do you get itdo you get it we do

  • Now that phot of the cute little polar bear next to the dead kangaroo may seem to be about global warming but is really about the bear stock market …….. A bear market should not be confused with a correction, which is a short-term trend that has a duration of less than two months. While corrections are often a great place for a value investor to find an entry point, bear markets rarely provide great entry points, as timing the bottom is very difficult to do. Fighting back can be extremely dangerous because it is quite difficult for an investor to make stellar gains during a bear market unless he or she is a short seller.

  • Imants,

    You say “the underlying meaning is the shallowness of society”

    well, to quote your own words, “that is your supposition not a fact as you have presented it to be.”

  • No Carsten I just made that crap up to

  • mw is fucking with y’all….

    the internet…

    totally wearing….

  • This plastic look is easily obtained by setting a canon camera on the factory default setting, further enhancing the mass production I want to be different just like you look..
    Imamts I do envy your “precision” sometimes.. The above statement is something coming out of my “dictionary”… but as per usual your edge is sharper..
    U made me smile… Yeah hard to get out of the established/ “classic” plastic canon look it seems , especially for newcomers in this “game”:)

  • Although Imants I think i can guess the artist’s “defending argument” too..
    Oh it was intentional.. I was striving to get the plastic Rebel look .. I wanted to look cheesy and strobe overexposed.. Blah blah..,
    Hmmm ok… If that’s the case then cool! If not then it’s also cool.. And that’s exactly
    The “problem” in this essay..imho

  • marcin luczkowski

    I think in ours times there are two kind of photos. Those that look good in web and those that look best on wall (and some look best in book but it’s another pair of shoes)
    The pictures that look best in web must be strong, must be fast in impression, attractive. Because we judge them in five seconds. There is no time to think. They must be visual attractive and strong with message content.

    This series of photos is for wall for sure. I see them in white space of gallery. Big or huge prints. With this color- it will be great. And with this repeatability it could be puzzling.

    White walls, my friend. Walls, light, air, ground under feet. It’s all that is missing in this story.

  • marcin luczkowski

    Back to reality.

  • Idea is funny
    Language is poor
    Shot are insignificant (technically)

    Sorry I don’t like this essay… try again :D

  • Imants…

    LOL!! I wish it was just specific to Canon rebels!
    But rest assured the 1Ds III a friend of mine owns and my trusty 1DS II pretty much have the same look!!

  • Been away the last days, no decent internet to speak of, all I could do was reading RSS feeds.. so I read all the comments prior to look at the essay.. was interesting.

    Given Irina Werning’s essay was an EPF finalist (and then winner) it doesn’t surprise me to see this work here, and to see it works for DAH. To me it follows that same nostalgia path, even more so having, as said, read first the comments.. also no surprise that Ana got fundings from an US Institute. To me, when finished all the different series, then it will be interesting to see and compare the various couples/cultures decipted, very much a work in progress for now..

    Never would I have made the connection to Piero della Francesca, given the place I live in I see his paintings in form of postcards daily, and the look is just not it, imo.

  • Marcin:

    David has stated more than once that he receives an average of 500 essay submissions a month for publication. I doubt he suffers from lack of choice for what to put up here! When finally he does make his choice, it is always an interesting excercise for us to come to some sort of conclusion as to why. Sometimes, I get it; sometimes, I need the help of Burnians for illumination; sometimes, it just simply fails for me.

    However, I will always give the images much more than a five second glance, and would be saddened if in fact the average viewer here would do otherwise…

  • marcin luczkowski

    photographer I discovered last times (there is not many photos yet)

    great photographs.

  • marcin luczkowski


    I am not sure what pattern David use when he choose essays for publications.

    I still belive, this essay could looks good on white walls.

    the repetition could give it new dimention.

    Well… I have to agree, this is not masteriece like Martin Schoeller’s did.

  • Isnt the opening photo kinda scary? Female HEAD twice the size of the male….Lust on male’s face, Smirk on females face.. somehow (i cant prove it) i feel sorry for the guy..he seems ready to be devoured by a “black widow”..
    i would call this photo : “black widow”
    no6 also looks ultra scary,no 9 (also i feel sorry for the helpless old guy)..
    although the number 11 made me smile, -non so threatening photo- still, still the female cabeza is disproportional to that male one…
    (do male heads shrink? or simply no brain left inside?)

    Anyway, bottomline, i still like this essay for two extra reasons:
    1) it brought tears in my eyes (from laughter)
    2) it WARNED ME and scared the shit out of me, just by simply projecting myself..imagine myself in that old age , pretending im so happy next to my torturer, that Enormous Headed “Black Widow” that roasted me half of my life the torturer that some folks call Husband or Wife (same shit, different genitalia)…
    I hate science…The GOOD DIE YOUNG AND leave EARLY…the “rest” never give up..they hang on to this life with their nails and claws deep in the back of time…like professional Rodeo Riders hanging one more sec on that raging bull called life…
    like they deserve it or something…
    i hate science and all those researchers that trying so hard to find the elixir and discover new drugs to prolong life…the life of the “useless” and the “selfish” …im tired looking at moving corpses, 100 year old rich tourists in the greek islands..while at the same time the younger generations that need to be there, simply cant afford it!We slowly becoming an old tired , badly aged world!..Japan has a big problem for example..the young couples dont have more than one or two kids so in 40 years from now japan wont have enough people to work and sustain the OLD and their social security/medicare/drugs etc.. etc…
    Although the OLD ARE THE BEST CUSTOMERS FOR LEGAL DRUG DEALERS (glaxo and smith etc)..And the OLD criticize the young for DRUG ABUSE and thy fail to see the magnitude of their HYPOCRISY…
    there are MORE MAJOR DRUG ADDICTS/JUNKIES among-st the old than the young ..
    and what do u show a young kid on drugs: handcuffs, jail cells and poverty
    and what do u show an old faRT on drugs: RESPECT, LOVE and compassion!
    are you effing serious?
    dont u see the paradox? lies, lies, lies…
    “Respect the old”, (he he, mainly out of fear coz our time will come too)…
    SENIORITY MEANS…:”its ok if im not as good as you, as long as i was here first,im older than you and thats enough,therefore its mine”
    (yes i do have some major respect issues…my mother use to tell me: “if u r in the bus and u see an older person then u have to stand and offer your seat”…
    hmmmm really? why so judgmental mom? What if this old guy is a child molester or a rapist? why should i offer my seat? why not driving his car? just poor that gave all his money to raise his kids and send them to the college? or simply spent every penny in Las Vegas whores and casinos???????

    Sometimes, ugly photos can be more food for thought than great photography! Paradox? u figure it out! not my job!
    big hug

  • Bob, “totally” is too strong a word. There is definitely a complexity to these people that is in most cases veers significantly in the other direction from starry eyed romantic infatuation that lasts for all eternity. There is a rich history of betrayals and disappointments written on those faces as well as some happy times. If this essay has significant merit, I think you’ll find that it gets it from that type of complexity.

    And Panos, give up your fucking seat for the elderly (and pregnant, hobbled, ladies, any old excuse). Odds are far, far greater that they are decent people like yourself suffering from pains which are no doubt exacerbated by the lurching of the bus or train. Seriously.

  • And if you are in Thailand you have to give your seat to monks also.

  • I don’t think this work needs any art historical contextualizing. It’s transcendent all on its own. Congratulations.

  • MW, Carlo…
    Monk Yes….pregnant girl Yes (even if she is 15)….!
    Ahhh its so easy (and expected) to be a cynic when young but it Should be a crime if elder..

  • what about an old monk?

  • old? pregnant monk? never thought of that damn it!

  • MW :)

    totally ;))…yea, i know. i meant that, for me, your comment was partly tongue-in-cheek, playing off the really, ummm, overly worked statement about love…and while yes, there is betrayal in the eyes of all long-bent-together couples, and there is cool/funny dark absurdity to the pictures (what i dig about them), i thought it was interesting to read the comments after your post…so i didn’t mean you were totally (f*$#&) with the artist or the commentators with cynicism…but with irony…and there is always truth in irony too ;))

    incidentally, i didn’t want to link originally but has anyone seen/bought Mikhailov’s Hasselblad Award book?….we bought it 7 years ago (or whatever) when he won…all about dancing couples…similar in spirit, but not set up…but the concept and irony is similar…


  • you can see some of the pics here, click through this person’s flickr stream…

    they are environmental….but like all mikhailov, not as obvious as they look ;)

  • my FAVORITE from the book…and maybe that hints at what MW was suggesting…

  • Love it. So strange and unsettling. Reminds me of some of John Currin’s paintings.

  • I don’t think there us any cynisism in this essay at all…
    We looking at a Spanish men and women who have a latin med mentality…
    Spanish women are natural born poker players… They hide their sexual emotions deep inside, it’s not seen as proper to show in public or to admit they love a man…
    The youngest generation is changing but still way off other countries…

  • Paul…

    That is what will make it interesting to me, comparing the different sets coming from different countires/cultures/backgrounds..

  • Bob..

    I do not do not do not need another book.. just ordered it though, it’s affordable.. do have his ‘A Retrospective’ one already…


    you are quite correct…these would not place in a camera club competition…


    you had me laughing out loud…funny

  • interesting as usual…the William Daniels essay , which got almost all positive reviews, 23 comments…this essay which has gotten mostly negative reviews , 95 comments..does this mean that people only write when they do not like something? or is controversy just more attractive than something “good”?

  • The artist’s statement was instrumental in creating the negative comments not the images

  • William Daniels got the positives from those elite western types who seem to love seeing the ex eastern block countries typecast into a shallow, sad, downtrodden depressing places……………… William didn’t give a rat’s arse about the people and that is evident in the images.

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