Barcelona-based Rita Puig-Serra Costa and Dani Pujalte first met when they were four in primary school. Dani, who originally studied law before shifting to photography, notes that their close friendship began during this time, before blooming organically into a relationship in their 20s. “I don’t know how but we started to be more than friends and we started a relationship. We moved in together,” Dani says. Rita, who studied comparative literature, took an interest in photography that started during this period of cohabitation, seeing Dani work on his personal projects, 13000 Bouches du Rhône and Cultural Containers.
“Since I started taking pictures, my family has been the centre of my projects,” says Rita. Her first project, Santa Memòria, is about her grandmother while the second, Where Mimosa Bloom, was about her mother. Their creative collaboration began when Dani helped with this second project. “Dani helped me a lot: it was my first project, and I was still learning the techniques while progressing in the project. Dani was my partner and my teacher,” she notes.
The way they work together is organic, weaving off separately and coming back together to work on common themes, noting that the process was the same for each of their collaborative projects. “It happens really naturally. Suddenly we start shooting, talking with people. We take pictures separately, and suddenly we see something and we know that we need to work on this shoot together to make it better,” Dani says. “I guess it’s not just about photography, we’ve known each other since we were four years old. It’s something that just happens,” he continues.
After Rita published Where Mimosa Bloom, the two started to face uncertainty in the latter end of their 20s. “We were almost 30 and we felt really worried about the future,” Rita says. To deal with this pivotal moment, the two left their jobs to travel and start a personal project for six months, which was how long they would last with the money they had saved up.
“We first thought it would be interesting to portray people around our age and ask them how they felt about the future,” says Rita, talking about what they initially chose to photograph. “I remember we were really obsessed about the project, talking about it 24 hours a day.” From these interviews emerged three thematic axes: linear time that moves forward, cyclical time in which things are repeated, and luck that breaks away these two moments, concepts that recur in the final form of the project.
“In the middle of the trip, while we were in Flores, we found a title: Good Luck with the Future. We thought it was perfect for the project because it combined the concepts of ‘future’ and ‘luck’,” two themes that they were specifically dealing with, Rita describes. “We also thought that Good Luck with the Future was a kind of nice farewell from the people we were meeting and interviewing,” she continues.
Their project and travels took them on a memorable adventure: shooting the reproductions of tourist attractions at Window of the World in Shenzen, taking endless notes while riding motorbikes in Flores, gatecrashing the Foxconn complex in China to take discreet portraits of the workers, and photographing the moon at an observatory in Barcelona, the image that closes the project. Somehow, the intriguing photographs we are presented with in Good Luck with the Future feels a sliver of what Dani and Rita saw during their trip. It seems like there are unspoken secrets between these images, many untold experiences perhaps, but only because there is too much to tell.
But with so many things to see and people to meet, they found that they had to return to their inner selves – the self that they wanted to examine through this project. “We were focusing on the outside, and not really in our interior,” says Rita. After seven years together, the couple broke up a few months after returning to Barcelona. “Without realising it, the trip has been a kind of goodbye, and Good Luck with the Future was, in fact, a farewell between the two of us.”
The two still talk and share thoughts on ideas and life in general, although they took a break from working together to focus on their individual practices. Dani is currently working on a project in Dakar while Rita is focusing on an introspective family project. Dani concludes: “I never felt like we stopped working together cause even if the project is from one of us, we are both really engaged in each other’s projects.”
After reflecting on their separation, they scrapped the portraits and interviews. The two continued working on the project separately, with Dani heading to Senegal, Brazil and Menorca and Rita to Greece, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Mallorca. What came out of it is a melancholic reflection of time and existence, which was also compiled into a publication. The project that started on a cosmic scale with a diagram of spacetime zooms in and in, eventually becoming an intensely personal one.
About the Author
Alif joined It's Nice That as an editorial assistant from September to December 2019 after completing an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing often looks at the impact of art and technology on society.