You may have read my earlier article on Lorena Cordero, which delved into the depths of her earlier history as an artist. Lorena’s intuition and ability to bond closely with her models has allowed her to form multi-layered, mixed-media photography. Merging both the feelings of the photographer and model, her exploration of human growth and behaviour has led to raw and beautifully creative portraits.
More recently, Lorena Cordero has taken this ability to a new level in her latest two photographic series. Due to be published in 2020, The Woman I Live In book features two ongoing projects – four years of work – which brought Lorena back from the brink of despair. These projects were AURA and Your Majesty the Queen.
The Woman I Live In – to be released in 2020
After the death of her mother, Lorena didn’t pick up her camera for two years. Grief and darkness had swallowed her creativity; she was numb from the world. Then, something changed:
“At an exhibition I went to in Paris about Cleopatra, I felt a connection with the essence and beauty of this [particular] portrait. I thought how each painter had imagines her and then created their own version of this magnificent empress… felt the connection with her story and power. I could feel again; I could feel more than extreme sadness.”
That moment has planted a seed, which would grow deep roots, reconnecting Lorena with her photography, and her life. It allowed her to see passed the walls of her grief – and from this, the Your Majesty the Queen series was born.
Your Majesty The Queen
Lorena Cordero began to research different female leaders. The more she learned, the more she felt an affinity with their fights and stories. She had to portray them. “Why leaders?” Lorena muses, “Well, just because a governor has to be standing no matter what. There is an implication of presence in a ruler’s life. That is what I needed; to be present again. Every photograph I made, choosing 25 female leaders, was a tribute to my mother and a healing to myself.”
Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary)
Juana la Loca
When speaking with Lorena, it was clear the emotions are an essential part of a portrait. Each shot taken becomes a trinity, capturing the emotions of the model, Lorena herself and the public: “It’s what I would call the mirror effect: I see me in you, you see yourself back in me, and the public sees him or herself in the image” Lorena explains. Her affinity with each character chosen allowed her to explore different types of pain – both what these women felt and what she was feeling – and through over a hundred images, Lorena found herself ready to confront and accept the grief she was going through.
Beautifully, the entire process also led Lorena to find a “communion” with the people involved as well as helping to heal her own personal wounds. The connections that she had built with her models, as well as exploring her own experiences and owning them through this creation of strong female series, gave her the chance to be truly present. “And that gave me strength.” She shares, with conviction. Your Majesty the Queen series took her to a place of rebirth, where she made peace with herself through her camera.
Excerpt from The Woman I Live In
“I didn’t know how taken I would be with the Goddesses. Perhaps in a moment of naivete I truly believed everything would be peaceful. That for a moment, I would have harmony in my life…”
In reality, moving onto the AURA project led Lorena Cordero into a new darkness within herself. The concept behind the series was about recognizing yourself and your own soul. Learning about and referencing virgins and goddesses from different cultures around the world, Lorena built a bridge to represent spirituality through femininity. The project, beautiful and conceptual, moved her creative approach as a photographer into new directions.
“[This] was no longer about trying to portray a historic character, nor identifying with their stories and emotions. We were talking about universal beliefs and myths, of that collective unconscious that finds answers to the unanswerable within symbols of our individual cultures […]. These energies kept getting stronger as we went on… You could say on this particular project, I evolved.”
Supported by Kari Davila (costume design) and Manuela Cordero (MUA), Lorena found ongoing companionship. Previously, she took care of almost every aspect of the shoots herself – the ongoing partnerships with Kari and Manuela advanced her techniques and grew the capacity and creativity within each shoot. This, plus the positive reactions from her followers on social media, snowballed AURA to new heights. “… Goddesses arrived all by themselves.” Lorena explains. “Women all around asked me if they could be part of this project.”
The Pregnant Virgin
Excerpt from The Woman I Live In
Broken moments: moving through the pain
Using her natural talent of connecting with each model, she put them at ease while getting to know them and their drives as together, they explored the different goddesses. “In the middle of this process I had to live very closely with deceitful, traitorous and broken moments. I saw how women sabotage each other in different ways. I felt how feminine competition could cause immense pain without regard. At the same time, though, I found the light inside women and their strength, security and self-love only could grow.”
The portrait of Gaia holds a particular experience in Lorena’s heart. As she worked tirelessly into the night to create the great, tree-like skirt, she received terrible news which brought her to the edge of despair. “I felt mother earth dragging me into her core.” Lorena remembers. Rather than cancelling the shoot, Lorena continued to photograph yet she felt empty, sad, lacking motivation. The session was, however, extremely beautiful – and through this gentle beauty, mixed with her suffering, she found a way to process her pain.
“It has been indescribably beautiful to be able to witness women, who arrived trapped inside their shells, leave the session with tears in their eyes and their chests feeling ten times lighter. I don’t mean it happens always […] but to me it’s always a wonder to witness. It is these connections that have allowed me to see within myself and get to know me better.”
The Woman I Live In
The Woman I Live In shares these two photography series alongside a selection of intriguing letters, which Lorena Cordero has written in the name of each queen featured. Each majesty, through Lorena, tells their stories and feelings. Similarly, the goddess photography series is accompanied by their stories, allowing the reader to learn more about their myths and religions. This concept further deepens the viewer’s ability to connect with the art and photography, the characters, and Lorena’s creative vision. This beautiful book will be released in 2020 and for now, will only be released in Spanish. Keep an eye on Lorena’s website for purchase details!
Excerpt from The Woman I Live In
La Infanta (Your Majesty the Queen)
Lorena Cordero Social Media Accounts