Intuition: 15 Years Of Ibiza’s Music & Club Culture Through The Lens Of La Skimal

Posted on June 11, 2019

Words: Olivia Ebeling

Images: La Skimal

One of Ibiza’s most prolific and respected photographers, Essential Ibiza’s Head of Photography Isabel Flores – better known under her artist pseudonym La Skimal – has captured the island’s club and music scene for an action and adventure-packed 15 years. On Friday, June 14th, she will show a retrospective of her career to date in her first exhibition on the White Isle.

Titled Intuition, the display will launch at the official opening party of five-star Santa Eulàlia Hotel ME Ibiza as part of the glamorous venue’s efforts to expand its cultural and artistic offering for the discerning international clientele that frequents it. The evening will begin at 19.00, with the musical soundtrack provided by island icon DJ Oliver.

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La Skimal exclusively told us before opening night, “I am incredibly grateful to Mamboland Agency and ME Ibiza for choosing me as the first local artist to display my work within this new event series. And I also want to give a huge ‘thank you’ to my friends, all of whom are amazing creatives in their own right and have helped me to take this exhibition to the next level. Stella Refolio from Filigrana Urbana has overseen the art direction, Francesca Tur from has shared invaluable creative input for the project, Natalia Felder from Ibiza Plug and Play has helped me massively with the equipment and Pat Comunicaciones has kept everything under control with her management skills. All I can say is expect the unexpected!”

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It was on an impactful trip to an African orphanage that Isabel decided to dedicate her professional life to photography. Since then, she has spent her summers shooting the weird and wonderful musical landscape of Ibiza, while focusing on her personal and artistic projects in the winter. An intrepid explorer with a camera, her curiosity and passion for photography have seen her travel extensively and work in far-flung destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Argentina, India, Cuba, Mexico, Thailand, Morocco and California – but it is her birthplace of Ibiza that always draws her back.

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Talking about the process of putting together the material for the exhibition, Isabel explains, “I have my hard drives in a fairly good order, but this was the first time I was looking at my whole body of work from a personal perspective. Going through 15 years’ worth of images is a massive case of ‘killing your darlings’, and in the beginning I really didn’t know how to choose the pictures. The only idea I had was to sit down in my house in Barcelona, close my eyes, put on some music and see what pictures would appear in my mind. And this is why the exhibition is called ‘Intuition’.” With just days to go before the launch, La Skimal has shared the story behind some of her favourite images from 15 years of shooting in one of the most famous locations in the world, her birthplace and spiritual home: Ibiza.

2ManyDjs At Pikes Ibiza

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“These are 2ManyDjs playing at the annual Freddie Rocks event in 2011 at Pikes Ibiza, which celebrates the birthday of Freddie Mercury. He was a regular guest at the hotel and became a good friend of Tony Pike, so every September the Pikes team puts on a charity fundraiser in his honour. Back in 2011, the parties at Pikes weren’t as well known as they are now, so it was a really intimate setting and 2ManyDjs were playing outside in the Plaza Mayor. It was incredible to see these festival headliners in front of maybe 100 people, and the atmosphere was super relaxed with a real family vibe. Of course, they had to put on the fake moustaches and wigs in honour of Freddie. I love 2ManyDjs, so to see them in such an intimate and quirky setting was amazing.”

Lady Gaga At Eden

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“This was right at the beginning of Lady Gaga’s career in 2009, shortly after she had released The Fame. She was playing at Eden in San Antonio and I had no idea who she was at that time but my friend Fran, who is always ahead of the trends, told me she would be ‘the new Madonna’. When I arrived, the line to get inside the club went from the entrance down to the famous ‘egg’ at the roundabout! We were allocated a press area but it was right at the top of the venue, so all I could take photos of was Lady Gaga’s head from above. My boss at the time, Eleanor Perez, is also super passionate about music so she told me we should go into the crowd. It was absolute madness. Lady Gaga’s fans were going crazy and it was impossible to get in front of the stage. People were pushing me, even pinching and biting me as I was trying to pass them, and I was shooting blindly over the top of their heads because I couldn’t see. There was a moment when I honestly thought I could die in that crowd! It’s funny because I had no idea how big Lady Gaga was at that moment and how big she would become. But there was only one other photographer, Phrank, at that show and the next day a lot of national and international publications were contacting me for pictures.”

Sven Väth and Luciano at Ushuaïa Ibiza

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“This was also in 2009 in the early days of Ushuaïa Ibiza when it was a small beach club in Playa d’en Bossa. I was working for a newspaper called Ultima Hora and Ibiza Rocks at that time. I was on my way to Ibiza Rocks to shoot Vampire Weekend, when my boss from the newspaper called me, begging me to go to Ushuaïa because there was a beach party with Sven Väth and Luciano going off! When I arrived, there was a huge line outside and they weren’t going to let anymore people in, but one of the security guys knew me and he literally picked me up, carried me through the crowd and put me right in front of the DJ booth. I realised it was the after party of Cocoon and it was one of the first summers that Luciano was playing in Ibiza. That year, he had a huge summer hit that had a really fresh new sound and was played all over the island. He and Sven Väth were super energetic and clearly having a lot of fun playing, so it was an amazing atmosphere. It was one of those moments that felt really special, and the crowd was aware that this was a real unforgettable Ibiza moment.”

Musical Vision: The Pioneering Artistic Synergy

“This part of the exhibition is very special. This past winter, I stayed in Barcelona to focus on my personal work and find new inspiration. When the exhibition was confirmed, I didn’t really know how to organise it because it is my first ever show. So, to find inspiration, I randomly went to a festival that puts together science and art. There, I came across a scientist, Xavier Sevillano from Grup de Recerca en Tecnologies Media de La Salle- Universitat Ramon Llull, who has developed a system that translates pixels into sounds for visually impaired people. The technology transforms the entire image into music by giving three musical notes to each pixel, turning it into a melody. At the festival, he was doing a demonstration and it blew my mind, so I spoke to him afterwards and asked him if he wanted to collaborate with me for the exhibition. He told me, “You didn’t know at the time, but when you were taking these images in the club, you were creating your own music – regardless of what was being played around you at the time.” There will be three images in the exhibition translated to sound, and I chose three very different photographs to check what the technology can do with my pictures. This is our first experiment and the result is amazing. I’m very happy to share a spoiler with you, but to experience the full concept, you should come to the exhibition!”

Wonderland Ibiza

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“While my commercial career has been heavily focused on the music and club culture of Ibiza, in my personal projects I love to find things that are a little freaky or weird because I also have a side in me that is a bit freaky! One of them is called Wonderland Ibiza, a selection of pictures that capture the eccentric and freedom-loving spirit of the island. It’s a work in progress and basically captures moments that I see while I’m out and about during my commercial shoots. Most people, when they think of Ibiza they think of sex, drugs and parties. But to me, the island is about the freedom of self-expression. I love the unique characters you encounter on the island, and how Ibiza transforms people. They may lead the most normal life back at home, but even if they are here for just a few days, they can let loose completely and do things that are not acceptable at home – for example, going partying dressed as Snow White! From a giant onion that I found in the DJ booth in Ibiza Rocks to a woman cutting her shoe with a massive knife, you never know what is around the corner in Ibiza! For me, it’s a celebration of life.”

Further Information

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