Roberto Rubalcava

The Life of a Dress

Roberto Rubalcava is a photographer originally from Mexico who has made London his home. Roberto’s work is characterised by an often ethereal dreaminess; a great sensitivity to colour, light and character. He describes his work as a mix between dream and reality, focusing on everyday themes and documenting his life and the lives of others. He has a great love for travel and experiencing other cultures – which brings us to his beautiful series of images from Mozambique.

Roberto was in Mozambique for just over 6 weeks for this project, part of ‘The Life of a Dress’ project, sponsored by the Swedish Embassy in Maputo, Mozambique. The project was created by Amanda Ericsson: designer and researcher for the Swedish School of Textiles, and founder of the fashion brand Dreamandawake. Pocko Times spoke to Roberto about the work and thoughts behind the resulting extraordinary images.

This is a remarkably beautiful and striking series. What does the project aim to investigate?

In the light of the global trade of second hand clothing, the project aims to investigate how value-adding activities in participatory handicraft workshops in local communities may engage different generations and nationalities in flow and responsibility of materials. Further, if it can contribute to develop, influence and reconstruct sustainable patterns of consumption and production. The project aims to identify and define models for fashion remanufacturing and potential opportunities for further development. I also worked with Karol Cristina Da Silva visiting orphanages around the country teaching kids to make puppets with unused materials, which you can see in this film below.

Roberto also filmed a documentary series for Teen Vogue US, which was directed by David Sauvage. This was about the local girls Nelly and Nelsa and their brand Mima-te. (Films can be seen below)

Was there anything, any mood for example, that you were trying to capture?

I was trying to capture what was going on, the reality basically. I wasn’t trying to embellish anything or create any mood specifically. But I did want to show the kids’ joy and creativity and passion whether in the orphanage or on the streets. The bright spirit shines through.

Did anything leave a particularly strong impression on you?

Yes, that independently of their background they have a wonderful love for life and are so passionate, creative, willing to share. I was very touched by the way they help each other and look after one another.

The kids have a wonderful love for life and are so passionate, creative, willing to share. I was very touched by the way they help each other and look after one another

Is there one photograph that means the most for you, or one that stands out?

This photograph (below) made me feel invisible. There I was, standing in the middle of the street in an African country with a camera in my hand, and no-one looked at me. The people had far more important things to do.

Berlin, Bears and Refugees