Discovered Identity Within a Spanish Family Archive

Alvaro Martinez Garcia combines newly produced images with his family archive materials to examine the history of his surname.

Alvaro Martinez Garcia combines newly produced images with his family archive materials to examine the history of his surname.

García García originally stems from an assorted collection of family photographs, mostly of my grandfather – Fermín (1911-1997). Over the course of several years, I have tried to make sense of these images by examining and exploring them in-depth, and by making my own photographic work in response to them, and in response to him.

In the most literal sense, ‘García García’ are the surnames of my grandfather, but ‘García’ is also the most common family name in Spain. For me, such a name is unique and inherent to my own history and identity, but for others, it is rather anonymous, generic and easy to forget.

In my experience, the family is a nest – a safe nucleus within a much larger society. It is an environment where I feel like one of the main characters, and where I am considered and cared for at all times. Being part of a larger society is equally liberating and claustrophobic; it is a privilege to have such a nest. However, there is a correlation between these two roles, within family and society. In death – when life transitions from the present into the past – it affects both spheres. Whereas the capacity to forget the memory of a deceased individual in society is higher, the family institution is also volatile, and present generations run the risk of forgetting those of the past.

By emphasising the existence of my grandfather who is now long gone, and who was anonymous within the vastness of society, I aim to celebrate the importance of both his memory and the past in general. By turning this personal story into one that is collective, I hope to encourage the viewer to do the same – to carefully consider the importance of family, the influence of those who are still a part of it despite having passed, and the significance of their presence within our own.

Words and Pictures by Alvaro Martinez Garcia.


Álvaro Martínez García is a journalist and photographer from Avilés (Spain). His most recent project, García García, reflects his interest in personal heritage and its ambiguous connections with the present. As a writer, he has collaborated with Loupe Magazine and shares content on his own platform, Articles on Hold. Find him on PHmuseum.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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