Surreal Photographs Of The Dark Worlds Of The Unconscious

Surreal Photographs Of The Dark Worlds Of The Unconscious

Avatar of Maria Isabel Carrasco

By: Maria Isabel Carrasco

July 5, 2017

Photography Surreal Photographs Of The Dark Worlds Of The Unconscious
Avatar of Maria Isabel Carrasco

By: Maria Isabel Carrasco

July 5, 2017


What is life but a fantasy we create? What is real and what is not? Who says that what you consider real is not just a story someone else is imagining? Or who draws that line between reality and fantasy? We love marking differences between these two realms because we’re so keen and stubborn in believing that this is the only and unique reality. Anything else belongs to the realm of the fantasy. But what if both worlds were to merge in one? That's precisely what Marcela Bolívar depicts in her images.

Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs balmasque-w600-h600
Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs bird-w600-h600

At first sight, her work looks like digital illustrations with realistic hinges. But it's actually the opposite. She's specialized in photomontage, through which she edits and modifies photographs to give them that eerie and fantastical vibe. It's all about adapting and transforming what's real to give it a new meaning.

Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs sixty stone-w600-h600
Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs ipocondrie-w600-h600

Bolívar gets inspiration from mythological characters and folktales in order to use them as symbols. Her creations work as a metaphor of the human experience, those moments when our mind wanders between reality and fantasy. In other words, they reflect our constant daydreaming when we need to escape from the monotony of life.

Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs mercury-w600-h600
Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs leda-w600-h600

Although her photographs seem to fully belong to the realm of fantasy, she always includes symbols or backgrounds that remind us of our world and drag us back into it. It's like in many fantastical tales where the character gets immersed in a wonderful unreal land but ends up wanting to go back. That’s what these images provoke in the spectator. They take us on a journey to the unknown but with a safe anchor to our own reality. She lets us wander in the realms of mystery and the fantastic, only to taste what is like to experience something different to what we’re used to.

Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs saturnine-w600-h600
Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs sulfur-w600-h600

So, what's the creative process? We tend to associate these realms and realities as coming from the unconscious, so they lack any logic. Just as the surreal artists, it's easy to think that all these creations are the result of a spontaneous process where one just lets the hand speak for the mind. However, that's not the case of Bolívar. Creating one piece requires plenty of planning and organization. She envisions what she wants to portray and goes through an extensive process of sketching and assembling until she’s satisfied with the result. She then proceeds to create the actual piece. Of course, depicting something with such an important imagery has a part of spontaneity, but this only happens at the time of imagining and planning. The actual process of creating the piece is thoroughly analyzed and planned.

Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs under the seal-w600-h600
Marcela Bolivar surreal photographs white crown-w600-h600

But where do these images come from? What inspires her to create such eerie and mysterious scenes? Although they belong to the realm of the imagination and the fantasy, as she has explained, her images are transpositions of her own experiences and personal understanding of beauty. She cares for what these images convey to her and only her, and they become paths to a journey of self-knowledge. Moreover, they become mirrors of her own curiosity, mirrors of a mind that wants to separate from the body and wander through different worlds to explore and escape.

If you want to explore more of the imaginary worlds Marcela Bolívar creates, take a look at her official Instagram account and website.


It's a common belief that the surreal and the fantastical belong to another realm, the realm of the unconscious. Then, we forget that realm is part of our own reality, when our mind wanders far from the logics we're taught to pursue. They're not different realms or worlds. Both are the representation of our lives. You know what they say: each mind is a universe. As such, each holds unique and diverse fantasies that are worth exploring.


Apex Magazine