Brian Delgado '04
with Pradine Saint–Fort '05 & Angela Vasquez '04
Brian wished to explore the medium of still photography. Along
with collaborators Raúl Serrano (photographer), Angela Vasquez (model), and
Pradine Saint–Fort (poet), Brian designed a large format book of photographs,
with several poems contributed by Pradine. See Pradine
Saint–Fort's project profile & see
Angela Vasquez's project profile.
Although extremely controversial in nature, I realized my vision of the book [of photography] needed to be done in a very elegant manner as to not offend and have my book be seen as pornographic trash rather than a work of art. I wanted the photos to be extremely refined, retaining a sense of classical structure where class and elegance would dominate the picture space. At the same time, I wanted them to also be shocking and/or disturbing to the viewer. In a way, creating an oxymoron that would not only make the viewer question the photos, but also force the viewer to reflect on his or her beliefs.
At the end of my winter term, I had begun preparing a portfolio for my "Offensive Art" class with Prof. [Annabel] Melzer; however the photos never made it in time and they kind of just became a folder on my desktop. When I planned the photos at the end of the winter term and had the photos shot, I didn't really have a clear vision of what I wanted. Instead, I kind of labeled them as a staging of romance. Little did I know at the time that they would be the inspiration for this portfolio.
I came across the photos on my laptop one day and decided to embark upon a photo collection that would be completed by the end of the term capturing me [and Angela] in staged and non-staged settings. I would use photo and with the help of Pradine and her poetry, to create a portfolio that would destroy stereotypes, break sexual boundaries, and use the camera as an eye into a world that challenges and, at times, disturbs and offends. A world within the photograph that would question everything and anything mainstream.
I decided to sit down with my photographer, Raul Serrano, who I've worked with for more than a year now and all I can say is that he has an art in capturing image. I had the vision and I basically said, "This is what I want and see for my upcoming book, but I want you to take creative license and work with those rough ideas and we'll see what happens with the photos. If they work fine, if they don't there is always more film!"
After [the New York City shoot], we began preparing for our last shoot that would be included in the center portion of the portfolio. These photos would be done in a much more risqué fashion and the style would get away from classical technique, and move toward incorporating some elements of Baroque painting into the photos (specifically the work of Rubens). This shoot was the only shoot we decided not to plan and just go into as onlookers into the world of Peña. I found his ideas and set for the Orozco murals to be incredibly challenging, controversial, and highly sexualized, the perfect combination for the finish of my book. We decided to photograph ourselves as part of the show by incorporating ourselves alongside all the characters and utilizing the stage that he had created.
When creating this portfolio, I learned that using photography and trying to portray my themes had some limits that I could not overstep without losing my audience. I realized that to retain an audience with an open mind requires very careful depictions. The photos cannot contain too many extremities that challenge without offending the viewer and causing him or her mind to close up to what they are seeing. My book is not one that I would show to a young audience, not because of its nature, but because of its intensity. As one grows and learns about life, the depictions become more real and thus the book takes a different meaning for an individual.
The process of creating this book was an incredible experience in that it gave me the liberty to explore media and how Latinos can become an integral part of this art form. Latinos have often been excluded from the media and as we have seen in this course, it has been a struggle for many to receive the recognition or the type of role that merits praise without falling into the usual stereotypical, society-defined roles that Latinos are placed in. By working on this portfolio, I have been able to integrate myself into the world of art, neither in an oppressed manner nor in a setting that restricted my creative impulses. This portfolio was made through the vision of a Latino, was photographed by a Latino, was modelled by Latinos, has writing from an honorary Latina, and in general, represents Latinos. I think this project showcases and demonstrates how Latinos can take an active stance in creating art and expressing themselves in whatever form they please without have oppression from the larger dominant community.