Mara Catalán is a documentary photographer and a fine art B&W printer. Born in Madrid, Mara moved to New York in 1990 where she worked as a freelance photographer and apprenticed as a darkroom technician with Gar Lillard at Lab One. Between the years 1995 and 1997, she lived mostly in Mexico, working in the photography archives of the Na-Bolom Museum in San Cristobal de Las Casas, and extensively photographing the Zapatista resistance in the area. In 1997 she took a job in the darkroom at Magnum Photos in New York. In 2000 she set up her own B&W darkroom and studio in Bushwick - Studio 304 - and continues to work as a photographer and printer until today.
Mara Catalán’s first monograph, Williamsburg, A Place I Once Called Home, is a coming-of-age story of a Spanish immigrant who moved to New York in 1990 and stayed. Living in Manhattan from day to day, with little money and no concrete plan, Mara eventually found a cheap place to live and people who cared for her in Williamsburg, an industrial neighborhood in decline, across the bridge in Brooklyn.
Williamsburg, A Place I Once Called Home is Mara’s personal record of her life there between the years of 1994 and 1996. With a distinctive style, she beautifully weaves B&W urban landscapes, intimate portraits, and lyrical street scenes with stories, personal letters, and diary entries in both Spanish and English.
The book is at once a wonderful record of a particular epoch and a historical archive of many places in Williamsburg which have either radically changed or cease to exist. It’s a window into the life of a woman strongly connected to her changing and expanding world, and also very much tied to where she comes from. More than two decades later Mara continues to live in Williamsburg, a reluctant witness to the massive transformation and the disappearance of familiar places and faces. This book is her ode to what it once was, a place she once called home.