Firecracker is excited to announce that the fourth winner of the Firecracker Photographic Grant is Spanish photographer, Lua Ribeira. Ribeira wins for her exploration of dancehall culture.

Noises in the Blood

Noises in the Blood constitutes the celebration of a ritual, embracing conciously the exotic stereotype towards a different culture. I look at the immediate differences between me and the subject, to be able to open a dialogue about the English Jamaican women and their manners within a shared context.

I propose to review the ideologies of equality intrinsic in modern western societies, to understand the noises as a rich and often unknown source of folklore and knowledge.

The Jamaican community in Great Britain maintain their tradition and identity living in a country that once enslaved and colonized their own. The specifities of local habits resist in a global society which trends to cultural homogenization. However, a wide scope of current technological breakthroughs make possible a fluid global communication that allows ties with their Jamaican origins to strengthen. There is a cultural network amongst the two countries which keeps jamaican folklore evolving within british society.

Within this context, Dancehall is a cultural space for music, lyrics, dance and fashion, with the authority of the native as a speaking subject. Influenced by african rythms, reggae culture and gangster american mannerisms among others, the dancehall emerges as a theatre in which both men and women perform their identities in a very spectacular way. Women in particular have the permission to abandon their roll as guardians of private and public morality to freely represent a flamboyant performance of their sexuality. Before the ritual, they prepare a radical transformation in their appearance, using ornaments, wigs and colorful provocative outfits as decorative elements. Whilst expressing great control over their bodies, they flaunt their voluptuosity with skilled pelvic movements.

Judge Simon Bainbridge, Editorial Director at British Journal of Photography said: “Lua’s work intrigued me from the first picture. You are immediately confronted by this quite harsh aesthetic, and you’re not quite sure who or what you are looking at. In some pictures there’s a performance at play between subject and photographer, while in others, a sense that the photographer is observing, not staging. And all this peppered with images of exotic plants. You understand that they are all related, but how?

Not everything made sense, but I found I was excited by it anyway. The pictures are charged. I responded to the energy of the photographs; the attention to detail, the sense that something was being documented. Yet there was clearly a collaboration going on between the photographer and these powerful women and the occasional flash of passive looking men. It’s an invite into a world where the usual rules and codes don’t apply. Yet it’s in no sense otherworldly. Every element is familiar, even if the whole is surreal.

Her statement confirmed what I began to figure – that they related to dancehall culture. And yet they are far from the usual record of a scene. Her preoccupation with ideas about diaspora, the exotic, cultural assimilation and resistance, all come through in this heady stew of images.”

Lua Ribeira

Lua Ribeira Cendan’s work is a search for the primal instincts as an essential characteristic of the human being. By looking at western modern civilization, she explores otherness and the grotesque of our time. She was born in Galicia, Spain and studied Sciences of Information at University of Vigo, as well as studying Graphic Design at Bau, Escola Superior de Disseny, Barcelona. Currently she is receiving a BA Hons in Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales. Her work has been selected and awarded at PhotoEspaña 2014, Encontros da Imagem 2015, The Independent Air residency, Grafik London, Ditto Press, Foto Visura, Photo Club Barcelona, A Fine Beginning and GazeBook, among others.