We ended up finding solace together in this hotel in Bogotá

WePresent

August 23 2018

Why are you drawn to capturing the experiences of women?
I am drawn to the female experience because of the rich and wide range of peculiar female characters, patterns and female archetypes that have inhabited this world since before antiquity. It is also true that I form part of this experience and can give shape to my own interior fantasies.
My photographs are mostly portraits that show or illuminate less visible or shadowy aspects of being a woman.
Who are the women and girls in your Nama Bu series and where do they live?
They are women and girls who belong to the embera-chamis ethnic group and from central
west Colombia. They mostly live there but because of forced migration have increasingly ended
up living in urban centers. I met them on the streets of Bogota and was immediately drawn to
them.
How did you connect with them?
They was a certain chemistry between us that became more and more evident as the days went
by. Working together in my hotel in Bogota and being as I am, quite natural, allowed for this
connection. We were able to grasp each others nature and this facilitated our connection. We
were curious about each others story and life. We experienced together the notion of being
displace, them by the circumstances they had to assume, me by my personal history. We ended up
finding solace together in this hotel in Bogota.
What kind of environment do you create to get a good portrait? What is your process to gain trust
with a subject?
As I said before, being natural helps. My sets or locations tend to be oneiric from the
beginning. One tends to reflect who one is from the places one chooses to live and work. The
place I stay in Bogota has its own faded charm. A very old hotel in the oldest part of the city that
somehow blended perfectly with the women in my series. I dons't really have a process to gain
trust with my subject, it either happens or it doesn't. I guess fate or "fortuna" play a role as well.
Do you give your subjects any direction in terms of how to pose?
I use different types of communication in my work process. So, I might not necessarily use a
verbal direction to achieve a certain pose, the pose comes naturally when they are in the right
spirit. The "right" pose tends to stem from our unconscious impulses that relate to the way I create
certain situations.
What do the natural elements and photographs of vegetation represent in Nama Bu?
They represent and are a reflection of everything else that is going on in the series. I don't
necessarily see the natural elements as something separate from the different people and
emotions in the portraits. We are a part of nature and it is a part of us. In my pictures nature can
be like a magic trick coming out of a hat, it appears out of nowhere in the most surprising ways.
Can you tell me about the drawings you’ve included?
I can't say much about them other than "there they are", since they were made by the people
who are in my pictures, and represent their own cosmos, fantasies and creativity. They are the
result of a series of creative actions that became an integral part of the project. I also like to think
that they are quite beautiful and I appreciate the part of mystery they provide.
Why did you want to shoot the Nama Bu series?
Now it's pretty clear to me, but at first I was not absolutely sure what I was getting into. There
was an initial spark, an inspiration when I saw the possibilities.
I was told not to do it, but I left anyway. I wanted to get to the bottom of things to understand the
issues that came to my mind, although it might sound difficult or embarrassing.
I find it awkward and delicate to work on the representation of an Amerindian community today,
avoiding all the stereotypes of our collective unconscious and the weight of history.
How to avoid reusing their image as a document to identify and get free from these invisible
codes, from a colonization of thought still active today.
What do you explore within it?
I like to think that I am exploring something authentic and natural in the people I decide to
work with. Things that are not as evident in daily life, things that are hidden from view. So, I
find myself exploring the lesser seen and experienced aspects of contemporary life.
How do you see your role in the making of this series?
In my work I dons't recognize a line at all between me and the subject, nor do I contain myself
within accepted boundaries. The work begins in the unconscious,
 so its more than anything about not getting in my own way or limiting myself unnecessarily.
Would you say it’s art or documentary and why?
Documentary for me is more about reporting or investigating the subject objectively. Its
more straightforward and has a fixed purpose. We can say it is more utilitarian. I'm much more
interested in the world of my dreams and fantasies, while not losing my hold or take on reality. It
dons't matter what you or anyone else calls your work, the important thing is the feeling it gives
you and the viewer.
What are you looking to capture in your photographs in general, how do you know when you’ve
got that moment?
Im looking to capture a particular sense of the real, a heightened sense of beauty, of the
unpredictable, the unique, a harmony and a certain wildness. There isn't the same appreciation
for "the moment" in photography anymore, so I find myself searching for a heightened sense of
the moment, something that dons't lose its spontaneity while at the same time holding on to
certain eternal values. I recognize I got that moment when people can sense that the pulse of life
is present in my work and when it transmits feeling. When there is the need to look at it again
and again. When it is inexhaustible.
How does a new body of work begin for you?
My work has always been about the search for a lost innocence. An Arcadia. So, when I
encounter this possibility in real life, I go after it. This is usually how a new body of work begins
for me. When it becomes irresistible and everything else slowly begins to disappear.
What do you hope people take away from this series?
Photography can be a window, or a mirror, a portal or even a gate. I hope people can take
away what they can. A mirror when needed, a window when desired, a portal to another world, a
looking glass, or simply a gate into their own fantasies and desires.