JUAN PÉREZ LA CRUZ
Venezuelan artist and architect JUAN PÉREZ LA CRUZ talked to us about memory, the situation in his country and photography as a social expression.
MAZIPOS – Tell us about your photographic project Private Memory and how did you get at it.
JUAN PÉREZ LA CRUZ – It all started during the Fundacion Tres Pinos art residency and art fellowship (Argentina). I got the first place at an international call of portafolios and it was a great experience because they gave me entire freedom and support to develop a new project, all this directed by Juan Astica (artist) and Massimo Scaringella (curator). When I was walking around the city the first month, I saw few flea markets and I noticed the large amount of personal and intimate products, like letters, family photos, unfinished school notebooks, prosthesis, and a lot of information about the family of the seller. It was a shock for me, and I started question myself about it… what is personal and what I should never leave behind. The following week I checked their merchandise again and I decided to buy the pictures or objects with which I could identify, hoping that others would do the same.
M – Who are these people?
JPLC – They are usually people who I don’t know and I want to keep it that way. Sometimes I buy their pictures on flea markets, search in town registers, other people familiar with the project gave them to me as a gift, to immortalize a moment with a new vision, always with respect and maintaining the honour of the photographed person.
M – What is your role in the construction of new imaginaries? What effect you want to achieve in the public?
JPLC – I believe the photographer tells stories and processes, they tell us where we must focus our attention. On this project, the characters were scattered around the world and now they will interpret a personal play. For this project I don’t want to make real, beautiful images, cause in our memory it isn’t usually full with these. We are more complex individuals, and I want to invite people to think and remember something that they may never lived.
M – Your background is in architecture. Do you incorporate that into your creations?
JPLC – The conceptualization of work is really similar in the creatives areas, and being an architect helped to dissect what I really wanted to show and how to do it. Like architecture, photography is a social expression, sometimes just talking and making the right questions leads you to better results.
M – How is the art scene where you live at, what kind of challenges a young artist faces?
JPLC – The art scene in Maracaibo its very fruitful and there’s a lot of talented people, but many of them disappear in a few exhibitions. A lot of them have more than two jobs to buy the materials, and sometimes one piece could cost your the entire salary! Living in Venezuela ain’t easy, the social and human crisis we have lived for the last few years make us reevaluate our priorities.
M – Tell us what are you working at right now.
JPLC – This year I’m going to “close” in some way the project Private Memory, by making an editorial piece about it: collecting the works, interviews and any other material about it. I’m closing this phase with a group exhibition in Caracas at the Centro Cultural Los Galpones, and one solo exhibition in Maracaibo, with the sponsorship of Alianza Francesa.