WHO AM I?

PABLO CORRAL VEGA

I inherited my passion for art from my mother and from an early age I dedicated myself to writing and photography; from my father I inherited a passion for politics and logical thinking. I studied law at the Catholic University of Quito and worked as a lawyer for a few years. The very day I graduated from law school, I had the feeling that I had made a mistake. I didn’t want to work behind a desk, I wanted to go with my beloved camera around the world sharing that intense fascination I felt for diversity, culture, the magical and complex universe of others. I was able to photograph for National Geographic and Geo magazines in Germany, France and Spain, for Audubon and the Smithsonian, for several newspapers in Spain and Latin America. I have been the author of eight books. I traveled tirelessly doing my photographic projects, giving workshops to photojournalists from all over Latin America, making exhibitions. It was so long that I traveled that I felt like a foreigner in my own country.

 

In addition to photojournalism, which has been an essential facet of my life, I have dedicated myself for decades to cultural management. I am the editor of POY Latam magazine, a space that seeks to bring art and literature closer to journalism. I am co-director of POY Latam, the largest photography competition in Ibero-America, I have edited dozens of books by other authors, I have curated several major exhibitions, and I am an expert in pre-press and digital printing. When I was Secretary of Culture in Quito, I created a participatory cultural agenda that implied that all the events in the city were organized through public calls for proposals and were selected by independent juries, I worked with the theater guilds in the construction of “Quito has theater”, and I systematically promoted creative dialogues between artists.

 

I am a photojournalist, book editor, cultural manager, and have a passion since childhood for writing and for art. On this website I will gradually publish various writings, mainly essays, which I have done over the years, and photographic works that do not fit into the documentary genre. I have decided that I am going to give space here to that dilettante and passionate spirit that animates me.

Portfolios
MY WORK AS A PHOTOGRAPHER

Click here if you want to see in Photoshelter, without distractions, the photographic work done for magazines and books, and here a work more focused on travel, fashion and commercial photography.

My writings
Reflections on the world

Since my beginnings, words have accompanied images, and on many occasions they have been an autonomous tool. Most of my writings are newspaper articles, essays, speeches, and some poems.

Opinions
WHAT DO THE OTHERS SAY?

In multiple articles and interviews made over time you can see what various people have said about my work. My concerns are diverse and include politics, cultural management, culture.

THE QUESTIONS

LONG-TERM PROJECTS

These are projects that have shaped my life. Landscapes of Silence was the book I made during my career as a lawyer in the late eighties. I used to escape to the mountains on weekends and photograph slowly, with a tripod and my Hasselblad camera. It was my way of rebelling against the logical and rational world of law. I dedicated more than five years of my life to ‘Andes’. It was published by National Geographic, in the magazine and in a book, for which Mario Vargas Llosa wrote twenty short stories. I started Tango in the year 2000, as a project for Nat Geo magazine, and since then it has become an obsession: every time I can, I continue documenting the night of Buenos Aires. My Garden in the Wilds is a project I did to heal myself after the death of a very dear person and I am still working on it. With it I fell in love with nature again.

  • Landscapes of Silence

    This is a project I began in 1985. Every weekend I would drive out to the mountain. On those trips, I grew to know the wind. The wind is the voice of the mountain....

  • The Andes

    When you climb up to those peaks, far off in the distance you see mountains that are even higher yet — mountains surrounded by dark forests, terrible and mysterious mountains impossible to climb. ...

  • Tango

    Nostalgia and sensuality need one another and nourish one another. It’s a virtuous circle: to overcome nostalgia one must declare the triumph of the senses, assert the concrete importance of the here and now. ...

  • My Garden in the Wilds

    I had a beautiful teacher whose name was Carolina Hidalgo Vivar. She taught me to look at the world with gratitude. I have traveled Ecuador in an attempt to find healing following her death....

The Blog

Texts, observations and visual explorations

  • A powerful and kind mirror

    A few hours ago, my much-admired friend Margaret Sayers-Peden, or Petch, one of the great Spanish to English translators, died. She never got to read this letter....

  • Above the clouds the world remains undisturbed

    When I can return to the sea, to my mountains, to my cloud forests, I hope I will be able to feel that same amazement....

  • Without memory there can be no identity

    Speech by Pablo Corral Vega, Secretary of Culture, on the Day of Interculturality. I maintain that identity is built around three great forces: memory, intimacy and the encounter with others....

  • We speak to connect with one another

    Speech at the 2018 Quito Book Fair and portraits of Haruki Murakami during the event. We speak to connect with one another, language is the mirror in which we discover ourselves. ...

  • From the wonder of the light to the sway of the city

    Interview by Milagros Aguirre to Pablo Corral Vega for Diners Magazine of Ecuador, January 2018....

  • Intimacy is political

    Speech at the opening of the exhibition of the same name. When we allow ourselves to observe the political dimension of intimacy we are forced to be defenders at all costs of tenderness, of consent. ...

  • Cultures do not dialogue, people dialogue

    Speech for the day of multiculturalism. Indians do not dialogue with mestizos, nor do blacks dialogue with whites. It is human beings who dialogue...

  • Photography as language

    Professional photographers have lost the exclusivity of photographic language. Billions of people can now take high quality photos and also share them, that is, use them beyond the private sphere....

  • Remembering Harvard

    In the summer, one sheds all extra clothing, casting off one’s belongings to the point of near-nakedness. Without memory. Without dreams. Without knowledge. ...

  • Gabo is not dead

    I've heard a terrible rumor. They're saying that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is dead. Who could think up such a hoax? To say that Gabo is dead is the same as saying that Aureliano Buendía never existed....

  • I don’t wish you happiness

    Happiness is a glass of fresh water on a hot day, the breeze on your skin, the evening light that kisses everything with its honey. ...

  • Luigi Stornaiolo

    The great master Luigi Stornaiolo, one of the most important plastic artists of Ecuador, has fun while painting a picture in the Seseribó Salsoteca in Quito....

  • This is my Tango

    This is the text I wrote in October 2012 as an introduction to the book Tango, published by Dinediciones. It is a postcard taken halfway through, from a project that has taken me decades....

  • Introduction to the book ’25’

    When we press the shutter, we are saying Here I am; This moment matters, I matter; These are the people I love; I wish this moment would last. ...

  • Questions without an answer

    How does the last orange taste? What becomes of an island that knows no poetry? How much is a tear worth in the desert? ...

THE FICTIONS OF

MARIO VARGAS LLOSA

For the book ‘Andes’, published by National Geographic in 2001, the Nobel Prize winner wrote a prologue and the twenty short stories that follow. They were translated by the great Margaret Sayers-Peden.

 

A word of caution from Mario Vargas Llosa

 

The vignettes that follow are not objective descriptions of the photos they accompany. They are fantasies, fictions, and inventions inspired in images taken by Pablo Corral during his travels through the Andes. They are not intended to provide exact information, but to recreate, with the help of imagination, the psychological, social, and cultural context that inspired the artist. In writing these word pictures I have worked with the same freedom I enjoy when I write a novel, interrelating the photographed reality with my own visions and allowing that alliance to merge into a new phenomenon. I would like to add that the world of the Andes is not alien to me. I was born in a city of the southern sierra of Perú famous for its volcanoes and earthquakes: Arequipa, where ancient houses and temples are constructed of the petrified lava called sillar. I spent my early years in Cochambamba, a city in the Bolivian sierra, and that landscape is the first recorded in my memory. And although I have lived most of my life on the coast, I have gone back to climb the Andes and breathe its pure air, and felt my blood stir on the heights. I have felt what the prodigal son feels when he returns home and through the gift of memory recognizes his native land and beloved peoples.

Man, cities, and condors
The flirt of Toledo
The man who makes people happy
Oruro Carnival
The village of Chaltén
The dream of Icarus
Miner from Potosi
Woman with no name
The stones of Sacsayhuamán
Death of a dancer
Cuzco Cemetery
Mourner in Arequipa
A modern girl
The Puna’s no place for turkey buzzards
Earthquake
Life is beautiful… and so I’m I
Aracataca is a universe
Virgin among sinners
Mister Muscles
I am a soldier
Read the text that Vargas Llosa wrote as an introduction to the book Andes.

BEYOND PHOTOGRAPHY

JOURNALISM & CULTURAL MANAGEMENT

An essential part of my work during the last decades has been the construction of cultural projects, most of them related to journalism and community:

The photo contest
POY Latam

In 2011, together with my dear friend Loup Langton, we created the POY Latam photo contest, with the support of Pictures of the Year International. Quito, Fortaleza, San Miguel de Allende and Barcelona have been the venues for a contest that over the years has become the largest and most important in Latin America.

The magazine
Revista POY Latam

During the 2020 pandemic, the POY Latam magazine (of which I am the general editor) was created with the intention of generating a reflection on the times we have now been living in, and to bring art and literature closer to journalism. It started as a project for the New York Times and became an independent space.

The books
The editorial world

I am the author of eight books and have been the editor of dozens of different books by other authors. I began this exploration under the guidance of Paco Valdivieso, one of Ecuador’s most respected publishers. As secretary of the Confederation of Latin American Graphic Industries (1992-1993), I immersed myself in the publishing world.

The workshops
Spreading knowledge

For decades I have dedicated myself to organizing workshops and seminars throughout Latin America, and have participated in many organized by other institutions and individuals: workshops on photography; creativity; resilience; construction of dialogue processes and participatory mechanisms.

Public cultural management

The Ministry of Culture of Quito

As Secretary of Culture of Quito (2015-2019) I was in charge of directing all areas of cultural management in the city: public policy, budgets, planning, educational processes, organization of events, fairs and festivals, stewardship of the museums, theatres, libraries and archives, direction of the city’s editorial project. We decided that the two guiding principles of our administration would be gender, and interculturality, that is, the celebration of our cultural diversity.

 

One of the first steps was to issue Resolution A015 (in Spanish) under the guidance of UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments). This resolution helped us to rethink all the internal processes of Quito’s Secretaría de Cultura: all the city’s programming was designed and the directors of the cultural spaces were appointed through public calls and independent juries – methodologies that were also applied to the city’s major events.

 

Public policy was built horizontally with the theatre guilds and the Kitu Kara people. Work with urban tribes and rural communities was strengthened. Importance was given to cultural communication, a website was created and fed by thousands of cultural managers in the city. The book Quito Gestión Cultural (in Spanish), written by several independent journalists, tells the story of our work at the head of the Secretaría.

HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR EDITORIAL PROJECT

(press on the photos to browse the books)

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