En Foco/In Focus: Dulce PinzónPosted on Mar 20 2013

By Jessica Juliao

En Foco/In Focus, opened Jan. 22, 2013, at CIIS, with 56 images by 48 artists, selected from the permanent collection of En Foco, a New York-based non-profit dedicated to cultural diversity in photography. The below interview most recent in a series conducted by CIIS students and emerging photographers, Jessica Juliao and Colleen McGruder.

Jessica spoke with with artist Dulce Pinzón about her Superheroes, those whose enormous contributions of life and labor go largely unnoticed.

Dulce Pinzón’s images of unsung superheroes represent the reality of who and what should be seen as the backbone of this country; everyday labors are reprised and their importance to culture and family is exposed. The artist creatively gives voice to those whose jobs go beyond labor in exchange for pay, touching instead on a deeply-rooted notion of family and love, and the heroic struggles of daily life. My favorite of this series is of her portrait of Minerva Valencia, a nanny in NYC, whom she depicts as Cat Woman. The scene is bright and inviting and I’m drawn into the daily and lived heroism of our protagonist.

Jessica Juliao: This project gave your subjects the opportunity to see themselves in a way that perhaps they’d never seen themselves before, in this case as a superhero. How did your subjects react to this project and how did their perception of themselves shift?

Dulce Pinzón: They love it; they feel part of something and enjoy being interviewed. They truly like to be recognized for who they are and what they represent to their communities.

My subjects came from different areas of my life: some superheroes were my students; some I worked with to help improve their working conditions; and some I encountered through the years and by destiny! I asked them to collaborate on the project. Some I approached in a more direct manner while with others I waited until they saw images so they could have an idea of what I was doing.

JJ: In this body of work you use what you refer to as a “satirical documentary” style, supported through the use of color and Pop Art-influenced elements. Do you feel that by using this style your images are accessible to a broader audience and therefore can create the opportunity to address deeper issues?

DP: Yes, totally! That was part of the idea. By using superheroes’ costumes I was able to take the workers out of the anonymity in which they live their life.

JJ: I am curious about the costume choices. Were these chosen by the subjects themselves or did you already have a character in mind for each person? What influenced this decision?

DP: I already have a character in mind for each person. I tried to pair up the type of job each worker has with the type of “super power” each superhero has in fiction.

JJ: Your work is driven by the need to make visible what is invisible, to give a voice to groups that have been silenced by our society. What made you decide to use a camera as your tool to accomplish this? How do you feel that this form of art fosters the conversations and awareness critical to bring about social change?

DP: Because photography has been my tool of expression, the ideas I have can be accomplished by the use of that tool. Why? I don’t know, but this is a recurrent theme in my life since I was little. It feels comfortable. Quite honestly I am not trying very hard to make my ideas a big discourse about anything in particular or to create any specific awareness or movement toward social change. I am just a person trying to communicate my ideas, enjoying very much the act of creating images that make me feel I have a voice. Perhaps I am able to make people reflect or laugh or enjoy and that is very nice, especially when my intention is not precisely that.

JJ: As a fashion photographer I have been influenced by the works of David La Chappelle and his carefully crafted use of color to communicate mainstream ideas. You use color for different reasons. I am curious to hear you talk a bit about the relationship between color and concept or intent in your work. I’m thinking, for example, of your Multiracial series. Do you feel that growing up in Mexico—where color is embraced to its fullest—has influenced your work?

DP: Perhaps. I love color. Black and white images appeal to a different discourse. I see everything in color, and real life is in color so why use black and white if I am not trying to write a poem?

Jessica Juliao is a CIIS student and an emerging photographer.



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