Artwork

“The photographer, as any other cultural producer, uses techniques to show a world that is marked by his own view. Thus, a photograph is never impartial: it opts, demarcates, suggests – and borderline imposes – a world vision. This can be done in a subjective or objective way. The fact is that the subjective system of social (and socially created) categories that the photographer has is imprinted in every image.”

(Hugo José Suárez Photography as Source of the Senses) 

Bio

Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Juan Sebastian immigrated to Miami at the age of 17. Sebastian’s interest in musical theatre and literature heavily influences his work as a photographer–oftentimes capturing a sense of musicality and fantasy. Inspired by elements of nature and myth, Sebastian channels the magical realism found in the work of literary masters Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende. In his photos, the parameters with which dreams are distinguished from reality confront purposeful obscurement. For Sebastian, working within the expansive continuum of light and dark produces a visualization of the fantasy that pervades both dreams and the subconscious.

Sebastian was recently chosen to be part of the international art exhibition “SELF MEMORIES” in conjunction with the prestigious Venice Art Biennale.

The curators of the exhibit selected three of Juan Sebastian’s photographs that study the human body from a personal point of view based upon his memories, experiences, and literature. This mystical perspective can be seen on the photomontage One Piece Man (36” x 48”) were Sebastian plays and deconstructs the body, recreating a new study of the human form, freezing movement in time and taking the viewer to question the fragility of life and the boundaries to where it stands in space.

Statement

My photographs depict an unusual reality that is engendered by instinct and driven by emotion. The images are inspired by the genre of the magical realism found in Gabriel García Marquez and Isabel Allende’s literary masterpieces, where reality and fiction, sleeping and waking, and myth and routine coexist. Within this realm, there is a space where the unbelievable becomes believable, and where the established is transgressed and surpassed. As a whole, my pieces represent a satirical theater, in which movement stopped in time leads the viewer to question the fragility of life, the dark and mysterious musicality of existence, the sense of reality and unreality, the fusion of the possible and the impossible. This spectacle is an encounter between the providential, the circumstantial, and the fantastic. These elements converge to create a uniquely ephemeral theatrical photographic image. Indeed, throughout my oeuvre, the theater has remained at the core of my artistic practice. The symbiotic nature of acting (wherein there is a combination of self and others) is an invitation to question reality. Within photography, there is a breaking of the fourth wall allowing the artist to initiate introspective work, but as well as leading to intimate discoveries through active participation and finally, an artistic reconstruction.

As a contemporary artist, I am interested in the exploration of the diverse and complex dimensions of the body as a mediating form that exists between the exterior world and the interior world. Each series functions as a unique study of the body. The photographs become an exploration of time as an indelible mark and serve as well as a commentary on intimacy and outward appearance, on otherness and fragmentation, on life stories engraved on people’s bodies. Further still, the images respond to the qualities of movement, textures, and colors, on the ways a body can be disguised (such as makeup, headdresses, and fashion). As well, I am concerned with the idea of traditions, the past, and the ancestral. As a whole, my work reflects on the personal and the aesthetic quality of life, seeking to become an experience of quiet disturbance. The photographic series I have created during my MFA program reflect on four fundamental axes: self-portrait as search for identity; time as a reflection; the body as the space for intimacy, and motifs from fashion as symbolic of theater, death, and simulation. In each series, these focuses intertwine, and I explore not only formal qualities, but as well as my own humanity, and use photography as a means of communicating with my viewers.

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