Mar Cuervo ‘The Sirens’ 2013


‘The Sirens’

‘The Sirens’ (Sereas) is a series of photos, a result of observations on female shellfish harvesters. These observations with the ethnological photographic eye have been performed by Mar Cuervo during three months of fieldwork in 2012-2013 at the Cambados cost in the North-West of Spain (Galicia).

The artist has called the collection ‘The Sirens’, because the coast is a natural environment of women who work there during their lifetimes. Their work is more than just a job. It is heritage and knowledge which they preserve and share at the same time. It is a significant part of their life stories and it defines their female identity.

About Mar Cuervo 

Mar Cuervo (1980) is a Spanish photographer. Her works present socially engaged visual practice that includes long-lasting observation. They are a result of participation and attentive listening of life stories that are almost to hear in the created pictures.
Femininity and female identity are topics that fascinate her the most. But this is never an obvious femininity. She chooses to portray strong women who are devoted to their heritage, who constantly cover duties of daily life and therefore fulfill own destiny.

Retratos (Portraits)

‘It is the common wonder of all men, how among so many millions of faces there should be none alike’. [Thomas Browne]

The Sirens create one community and seem to fulfill the same destination. This is visible in their features that have something in common: strength and resoluteness. Their ‘uniforms’ however somehow different reflect an entity and equality. But at the same time all women are individuals. Behind their distinct appearances, different melancholies seem to be hided. The head-coverings that some of them wear can be regarded as traditionally feminine or masculine. Some of women try to nuance their strong femininity by putting make-up or jewelry. One of them wears a ring that invokes her personal life too.

Manos (Hands)

The next set of photography’s shows bare, destroyed by work hands and also those covered with rubber gloves. These hands belong to distinct women and reflect the character of their lives. The hands have something in common as the same is the work they do. Therefore the hands exemplify the female community. The gloves are almost a part of female body. They are an attribute of work but also of the whole existence.


The third group of pictures could be described as landscapes, because they show all elements of the environment the woman live in but also the reality of daily life. This environment consists of nature and objects – tools, clothes and buildings. The daily existence is fulfilled with work but also with a company of other women.