CHRISTIAN RODRIGUEZ (New York, USA)
Christian Rodriguez was born and raised in New York City by immigrants of the Dominican Republic. He spent his childhood traveling between the two islands and cultures. In high school, he attended a four-year after school photographic residency program, NYCSalt. His passion for photography led him to study at the Savannah College of Art and Design. While away from home, he developed an infatuation for his Dominican background. His photographic work focuses on issues of immigration, cultural identity, and the Dominican diaspora. Currently he is working on long term projects between DR and NYC. He prefers the use of traditional methods such as photographing on light sensitive materials and a more hands on approach to image making. In 2017 he exhibited with En Foco for their series “The Apartment Gallery Series” as well as selected for The New York Times Portfolio Review.
Leo is a body of work that I began in 2014 and continue to pursue currently. The images follow Leo’s journey immigrating to New York from Dominican Republic. I hadn’t returned to the island in eight years. The night I landed so many family members were waiting for me outside of the airport. Leo was three or four, he broke his way through the crowd and with his tiny finger pointed up towards me and exclaimed in spanish, “You’re my brother!” We were instant friends and I began to photograph him with immediacy. Soon I learned that Leo would be moving to the United States. He would be leaving his mother behind to join his father and begin school. Within this body of work I try to document the transition of a child leaving his home, capturing him as he grows and his surroundings change. The images aren’t just about hardships, they show a child dealing with major changes in his life. For as long as I am able I hope to create a record of Leo and the dreams he chases.
Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
The process of photographing on film from beginning to end is one that requires you to tune in. After I developed a connection with the medium my work began to feel grounded and intentional. Image making took on a new meaning and my artistic objectives were suddenly in focus. Shooting on film connects me to my subjects and allows me to think less about gear, through this I can hown in on the stories I want to tell. Film helps me think of my artwork as a survey of what matters, not only to me but the people around me. In the end what most informs my practice through using film is how it augments the people whose story I’m trying to tell.