Pilar Aymerich wins National Photography Prize

Jury highlights "ethical" trajectory of the Barcelona photographer

3 min
Pilar Aymerich photographed in her home, in an archive image

BarcelonaThis year's National Photography Prize, worth €30,000, has been awarded to Pilar Aymerich (Barcelona, 1943). As reported by the Ministry of Culture, the award recognises Aymerich's career "on the streets", during which she has dealt with "issues of the social and political reality of the late Franco era, and which are still relevant today". The jury also values that her work arises "from an ethical notion in which fragility is the starting point of a photographic narrative".

"Pilar Aymerich incorporated feminist approaches and reflections into her own practice, a truly unusual fact in the panorama of those years in Spain. She developed her own militancy and her own photography within the main actions and demands of the workers' movement, such as strikes, rallies and demonstrations," the jury explains. In fact, her images have the added value of being "a radical deconstruction" of photojournalism, because Aymerich melted into the environment and took the photograph after understanding the situation she wanted to portray. That is why it has been said that she understands photography as a "relational and intersubjective practice in which one works with people". Of her work, Pilar Aymerich herself has said that she looks with "women's eyes" and that instead of shooting to capture the images, she fishes for them. "In photography I don't shoot, I fish. I was always waiting for the moment when the fish would bite", and in agreement with the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, she believes that "framing is always moral"

The Trinitat women's prison in Barcelona, photographed by Pilar Aymerich in 1978

Throughout her career, Aymerich has collaborated with publications such as Triunfo, Destino, Cambio 16, El País, Fotogramas and Qué Leer and the audiovisual media of TVE. Also in publications dedicated to figures such as Montserrat Roig, Frederica Montseny, Mercè Rodoreda, Caterina Albert and Maria Aurèlia Capmany. The Reina Sofia Museum bought part of her work, while her archive is deposited in the National Archive of Catalonia. Among other awards, she received the Creu de Sant Jordi in 2005.

Construction builders demand a 40h working week and a minimum wage of 5,500 pesetas
President of the Generalitat in exile returns to Catalonia on Octover 23, 1977

Pilar Aymerich's training began in the field of dramatic art and she studied for five years at the Adrià Vado School of Dramatic Art, directed by Ricard Salvat and Maria Aurèlia Campmany. She discovered photography during a two-year stay in London, and her vocation came to her in Paris, when she stayed with her uncle Xavier Tarragó, who had been a photographer in the propaganda commissariat of the Republican Generalitat, and specialised in reportage and portraiture. Her father used to tell her that she was like "an owl" because she "looks a lot and talks little", and he sent her a camera so that she could pursue her passion.

Feminist demonstration against rape on Passeig de Gràcia
"I am also an adulterer"

Pilar Aymerich began working in 1968 collaborating with the CIS agency at a time when "there was still censorship", as she herself said, and her presence grew from 1975 onwards, when social movements became more visible after Franco's death.

Pilar Aymerich is the ninth woman to receive the National Photography Award, after Cristina García Rodero (1996); Ouka Lele (2005); María Bleda, from the duo formed with José María Rosa (2008); Colita (2014), who rejected it; Isabel Muñoz (2016); Cristina de Middel (2017); Montserrat Soto (2019) and Ana Teresa Ortega (2020).