What was your inspiration behind the project?
I’ve always been interested in Selfhood but as a philosophical concept, and when I moved to the U.S. this changed. Having emigrated as a fully formed adult made me see things differently. I started to compare and question the structures of my identity and how they relate to my cultural and social background and in relationship with the new socio-cultural environment. So, I started photographing people, and then I decided to start photographing people who shared the experience of being an immigrant or the grandchild or child of a migrant, or someone who self-identifies as a person of color. I thought it was important to me to find this connection in which I can see myself reflected in some way.
Whilst creating the project did you come across any challenges?
I think one of the challenges I came across happened before I even started the project. I knew I wanted to make sculptural pieces using photography but I didn’t know how. So I started to explore possibilities and after a year of trial and error I came up with my technique.
How did you develop your unique sculptural technique?
It’s been a journey but I knew I wanted to use different materials to create portraits in which the process of making a piece conceptually parallels the construction of identity. I wanted to push further away from traditional photography to explore identity and its multiple layers.
Everything started with my previous series that was a little more sculptural than the conventional photography I have been doing. So I moved further in that direction. With The Constructed Self, I am adding wood, resin and paint and I am really disrupting photography’s flat surface by cutting and reassembling images to build three-dimensional objects. And in doing this, I am playing with perception, our visual perception, and our perception of identity, both of which are also constructions.
How long does the start to finish process take you?
Without help, some pieces take up to two months. But with assistants, of course, that time gets reduced by half. There are many steps to creating one artwork: First I choose the model or open a call, then I paint the wall, photograph, edit, decide how I am going to slice the image, prepare the files to print, print, cut, design the woodcuts, cut the wood, sand, paint, attach the image, do the resin, sand again, repaint and attach the hardware. And these steps repeat themselves many times depending on the number of individual pieces that compose each artwork.
How does this body of work fit into your wider practice?
I think this was a turning point for my art. I realized that I enjoy working with my hands much more and that I can actually create something new—works that sit in between photography and sculpture.
In relation to my art practice, identity is one of the main subjects so I continue to explore this topic in different ways.