Carlota Guerrero and Sita Abellan have an alien vision for 2021
The artist and muse tell us about their project 'Planet Indigo', creating the charity calendar together and the ‘trip’ that inspired it all.
Photography Carlotta Guerrero
“Beatrice, you see Sita right now? You can see her?” Multi-disciplinary artist Carlota Guerrero asks on a three-way video call from Barcelona. I can certainly see Sita Abellan (currently in London), her trademark azul-hued locks winding down her back, her fist-sized earrings clacking with ceremony against her headphones. “Imagine her in technicolor,” an enraptured Carlota continues, “Imagine what she must have looked like.”
The Spaniards are unraveling the story of their meet-cute — a mutual friend’s New Year’s Eve party in Barcelona. I say meet-cute, because it was nothing less than a romantic comedy trope — sans the romance. Carlota gravitated toward the model-stylist-DJ-designer from across the room. The latter was dripping in rich colors, as she tottered in hoards of jewelry and gravity-defying heels. She looked “just like an alien,” Carlota laughs. I should preface: Carlota was also tripping on LSD.
Considering Sita Abellan always felt like an alien in her small hometown, it was only natural she should find herself in an industry obsessed with otherworldly creatures. Sita became a name in fashion overnight when Rihanna cast the model in “Bitch Better Have My Money.” She went on to styling (working exclusively with J. Balvin), creative direction, photography (frequently working with Kim Kardashian), and design (launching her jewellery line Lilith by Sita), but only through Carlota’s lens, did she truly feel ‘seen’. Carlota, alternatively, had long-since made her imprint on the industry with her gender-centric photography, presenting her subjects in accordance with the artist’s own perception of the final female form: flawed diamonds (no doubt you’ll recognize this portrait). Sita Abellan may be an alien, but Carlota Guerrero’s feet are firmly on the ground.
At that very party, the duo decided they must collaborate. In the weeks following, they set about preparing a special project called Planet Indigo: a calendar, photographed by Carlota in Barcelona, starring Sita. It would be shot in one day around the city and benefit Federacion Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans y Bisexuales (FELGBT) — an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Spain. Between Carlota’s social commentary and Sita’s much-coveted surrealism, the product was one of perfect juxtaposition between two artistic identities. It may be too late for 2020, but a Sita Abellan and Carlota Guerrero-curated 2021 looks a whole lot brighter. Hell, maybe even technicolor.
Enjoy a sneak peak of their calendar, below, and a candid conversation between the two artists as they touch on pandemic productivity, their frequent proximity to A-listers and what exactly propels the other to create.
What appeals to you about the other, creatively?
Carlota: Sita is so fashion, but she’s also so different. I’m inspired by her because she’s so free, there’s no boundaries for her. It’s more than unique, it’s rare. She feels free to express herself as she is. She’s an icon.
Sita: I honestly feel the same. I feel like she has no boundaries. I love her work, but honestly also the fact that we are both Spanish is a real thing.
C: I feel like we’re both stronger in the fact that we’re Spanish. It always helps me to remember where I come from when things get too big, too crazy. Knowing that there’s a simpler way to live inspires me.
S: It helps me too. I didn’t leave Murcia until I was 21. It’s funny because I felt like an alien there, but I still do now. And because of that it’s very difficult for me to collaborate with people, because I’m so individual. But for Carlota and I it was a very fast connection.
C: After we met, we immediately ran around like crazy. Even the calendar was shot in one day.
S: Yeah we were running around Barcelona, changing on the street.
How has the pandemic affected both your individual creative production, and both of you personally?
S: Well, for the first time I’m not traveling as much. I used to travel every other day, and it was crazy. It used to be that in one week I’d be in two different places and taking long flights to go to America. Even though the news has been sad, for me, I needed to stop.
C: For me it was exactly the same. I was working a lot. Every week I would leave Spain. It’s been such a sad time, but for my personal journey it was so necessary. I finally stopped and looked at everything — got perspective on my work. I could finally see the whole picture. There are days that are really draining, but there are some beautiful days too.
S: Shoots are happening again now, and what I’m not doing in person I can always do by video. But I’m ready to travel again, I don’t like staying in London for so long — it’s so shit! I can’t take the weather.
C: Yeah I think there’s peace in knowing that it’s going to end, even if the next couple of years are like this. We’ll make it through. We will learn something from it, and I’ve learned so much already. This is a time to reflect. I’ve always been hard on myself, but now I’m actually impressed by what I’ve done. It’s been nice to spend some time appreciating myself.
S: Right, I travel and travel so much that I feel like I don’t live in real time and I don’t have time to really take in what I’m doing. Now I look at things I did at the beginning of my career, like going to Saudi Arabia with Vogue Italia, or my collaboration with Fendi, and I can’t believe I did that now. At the time I’m not taking it in, I’m just doing more work.
What’s it like to experience the admiration of someone who you admire? Have you met a fan of yours who you’re a fan of?
S: It’s hard because I’m not really a fan of anyone. Maybe Marilyn Manson or David Lynch. I like people’s work, but I’m not a “fan”. I do feel grateful for whoever comes to me and says they like my work, I’m never trying to make anything that people would like, so it’s like this extra boost when someone tells me that they do. It’s amazing when someone recognizes your work.
C: It’s always a surprise when people connect with your work because when you do it in a genuine way you do it because you need to do it, not because you want to impress people. Whether it’s Beyonce or your neighbor, it feels the same. You quickly realize it doesn’t matter. Everyone can be an angel and everyone can be an asshole, so you stop idolizing people.
S: I also could have never expected where I am now. I was so insecure when I was young, and I started as a model and people would tell me I’m not tall or this or that. Obviously I always wanted to do what I’m doing now, but I never thought it was going to happen. I had a hard time when I was a teenager, because I was a freak and that made me stronger.
It must be bizarre to go from that, to this big outpouring of love and industry people telling you how ‘cool’ you are.
S: It’s so stupid! Like, “Oh, you look amazing!” It’s stupid. Like, thank you, but I’m not here for that. I dress up for myself. I would work as a model and be doing the styling, and I realized I just didn’t want to work as a model anymore. People were criticizing and judging me all day, it was like, Why am I doing this? I just felt empty. It can fucking destroy you.
C: It’s such a hard industry, but we’re here to break it. Sita, are you the same woman you expected you’d be when you were a child?
S: When I was a kid, I didn’t know how I was going to be. My concern was, will I feel like this when I’m older? And yes, I do. I still feel like this Indigo kid. Okay, for you, why did you choose photography?
C: A friend gave me a camera, I became obsessed with it. I would shoot everything all the time. I was actually thinking about it yesterday. It came to me with such strength that I felt it was my language.
S: What are your inspirations?
C: Life itself. Everything. I feel like it comes in a very science fiction way, I feel like I have antennas in my hair and ideas come floating in from the universe. And I trust the process because it really comes from my heart, if I overthink something.
S: That happens to me too, it comes to my head somehow and I know I need to do it. My intuition is so important, I know what I want to do, who I want to work with, what’s not going to work. I’m guided by my intuition. But I just want to do more. I feel like I have so much more to do. There’s much more work to do.
C: I visualize everything and it really happens. Power of manifestation.
S: Me too!
C: We are Spanish witches.
You can purchase Planet Indigo online, here.