Karen Miranda Rivadeneira


Karen Miranda Rivadeneira


Of Ecuadorian origin, Karen Miranda Rivadeneira was born in New York in 1983. After studying philosophy and theology, she joined the School of Visual Arts in New York, then the Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark. Her photographs explore the themes of identity and intimacy, and take their main source of inspiration from the Ecuadorian Andes,
the land to where the artist traces her origins. The works have been exhibited at the Dublin Art Festival and the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival, and were displayed at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in 2011, as well as the Chicago Museum of Arts in 2015. She recently featured among the photographers presented at the exhibition ‘Staging the Self’ at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.


In the mouth of the mountain jaguar, everybody is a singing hummingbird

2016 Photographic Residencies

In his foreword to the essay In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Charles Moore wrote: “One of the basic human requirements is the need to dwell, and one of the central human acts is the act of inhabiting, of connecting ourselves, however temporarily, with a place on the planet which belongs to us and to which we belong.

For the museum’s Photographic Residencies programme, Karen Miranda Rivadeneira returned to the land to where she traces her origins to take photographs of the people of Ecuador’s mountains. She chose to focus her work on the Bolívar province — an arid and volcanic landscape, where Inca traditions can still be found — and on the Loja province, the land of Saraguro people. While she claims to be familiar with these regions, she admits that she has never looked at them through her lens. Her work is therefore about rediscovery, an attempt to explore her perception of reality through the prism of her origins and her relationship with nature.

The photographs taken by Karen Miranda Rivadeneira combine factual and fictional narratives, and are steeped in a form of magical realism with a porous boundary between conscious and unconscious aspects. The photographed subjects change over time and space, and respond to concepts specific to their region that transcend the intellect and belong to the realm of mystery.

The act of taking a photograph — very often impromptu and coincidental in Karen Miranda Rivadeneira’s approach — is designed to help her capture these mountains and explore their inhabitants’ intimacy and identity, two challenging fields that have been at the heart of the artist’s work since she first started as a photographer.

Series produced between 2016-2017.

Piedra redonda

Photoquai 2015

The Shuar people have lived in the Amazon forest since time immemorial. They see the world as full of spirits, archetypes of human nature and its different states: on the one hand there is Nantar — the sublime, the ether of the ancients, accessible through contemplation; and on the other, Arutam — a warrior world of action and inner thunder. Through their personal relationship with Nantar and Arutam, each Shuar achieves a deep understanding of their relationship with nature. AArutam and Nantar are parts of the psyche, and therefore accessible to everyone. You have to think ontologically, look for meaning in all being and favour the ‘meditative thinking’ Heidegger was fond of. By closely observing the Shuar people communing with nature, I have tried to bring us nearer to a feeling of fulfilment. We all aspire to harmony between action and contemplation, between the conscious and the unconscious. This quest is a difficult one, but it’s worth it.” – Karen Miranda Rivadeneira

Series produced in 2015.