Helena Goñi


Helena Goñi (Bilbao, 1990)

With a BA in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country, she moved to London to continue her studies, completing a Master’s in Photography at Central Saint Martins. After graduating in June 2015, her first individual exhibition was shown at the Cosmos gallery (Bilbao) in October of the same year, marking the début of her project Tourniquet. Between October 2015 and June 2016, she worked on her project Behind Blue Eyes, made possible by a Visual Arts grant from the Provincial Council of Biscay. This second project was published as a photo-book, after she won the first edition of Género y Figura.

She has won numerous awards, among them: Bilbaoarte 2019, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Basque Artist Grant 2018, Ertibil 2016 and 2018, Barakaldo Foto Festival and GetxoArte 2016. Her work has been collectively exhibited in several countries, such as Germany, Malta, the UK, Switzerland and Spain. January to March 2017 saw her second individual exhibition, when she presented Tell Me How Close We Are to a Riot at Bilbao’s Sala Rekalde, as part of the Barriek programme. Her work can be found in private and public collections, at the Basque Museum-Centre of Contemporary Art (Artium) or the Bilbao Contemporary Photography Centre, for example.

Although her creations are predominantly photographic, they are deeply influenced by music, which is integrated into her work itself, alongside other devices such as video, installation, etc. She draws on her surroundings, paying particular attention to her experience through expectations, failure, utopia or encounters with the Other.

This is a selection of images of the project I am working on at the moment.


A cold, cold ocean

A red desert for digging up dinosaur fossils. The cheesecake place in the centre of town, where you could help yourself to mini chocolate-chip cookies from a glass jar whilst you waited to be seated. Our house’s huge garden. Picking fruit and flowers and taking them to your neighbours, or setting up a stand by your front door with a piggy-bank reading “2 flowers, 50p” and watching people pay religiously. Anti-earthquake protocols. Aluminium-coloured thermal blankets. Bears. Mountains. Deer on the roads. Sleeping in the car. Brunch. Totem poles and whales. No Three Wise Men. Offspring. Britney Spears. Polaroid cameras. Enormous seaweed. A cold, cold ocean.

Following my desire of going back to a country where I only lived one year and a half, but from which I locate almost all of my childhood memories, in the summer of 2017 I traveled to Canada with the purpose of crossing it and hopefully understand why, that place where I had lived 18 years ago, still had an enormous presence on me and was like a utopian space in my memory to which I could turn to. Since the beginning of the project I was not interested in going back to all the places where I had been with my parents, rather to re-encounter with the landscapes and the vast territory. This is why I started my journey on the east coast and took two months to get to Victoria on the west coast which is where I used to live. In the process many speacial relationships took place, specially one with a 13 year old kid with green hair that, like me, was crossing the country by train.

The images I took during my trip are composed mainly of fragments from the experiences on the train and there is a constant movement in the images seen through parts of cars, endless trains or deserted roads.