Tiana Reid Interviews Dominican Artist Polibio Díaz

DAI/ISCP Artist09.26.2014Sandra Hamburg

Tiana Reid recently interviewed Dominican artist Polibio Díaz for ARC magazine. [Also see our previous posts: Video/Performance: Polibio Díaz Receives Award for “Manifiesto”, Art Exhibition: Polibio Díaz’s “dominicanYork”, and Performance Art: Polibio Díaz’s “Metro”.] Here are a few excerpts; you can read this fascinating interview in the link below:

I had briefly been introduced to Díaz a month or two before, watching him give a thank you speech at a Davidoff Art Initiative reception in a brownstone art gallery in Chelsea, and he had later said that the Davidoff Art Initiative “opened up a creative universe in my life that I never imagined could have existed in me.” I believed him. [. . .]

In the case of Díaz’s work about migration, the environment and race, can a mass-produced trinket symbolize the atmosphere of Inwood, Manhattan even outside of Inwood – say, in this case, in a studio in Brooklyn? Can Inwood itself be a metonym for the Dominican Republic? Can an atmosphere be reproduced? Certainly not with all of its qualities anyway. Perhaps only an air’s traces can be recalled.

What follows is something like the origin story of Díaz’s fugitive aura.

Tiana Reid: I saw a lot of similarities between your early film work [see la Isla del Tesoro (Bumper)] and your photography work (e.g. DominicanYork and Interiores) in the way that there are so many different frames. You were describing it as a coming together; there is multiplicity and heterogeneity, but it also makes sense together as a whole. Could you talk a bit more about what attracts you to so many things in one image?

Polibio Diaz: There is no single person. We are formed by difference: different experience, different states of mind, different atmospheres, different moods. There is no one picture. If I take a picture of you, I can’t capture the whole you. This is similar to how there is no black and white: nobody has the right answer. We are like a half-truth and a half-life. We are half sane and half evil. We are many things and therefore I’m interested in the whole. Think of the famous cliché of “one picture is worth a thousand words” [laughs]. Bullshit. Especially because we now live such a speedy and impossible life. You have to be the best. You have to be the prettiest. You have to be the richest. It’s crazy. I have to be better than you. This is trouble. You have to struggle with yourself to be better within yourself.

TR: I sensed this in what you were just describing—the spirit of relations—but also I read that you describe your work as being about your “compatriotas” (in English: compatriots or countrymen). Could you talk more about your vision of the social world that you’re responding to or creating with your work?

PD: I love my country so much. I love my fellow Dominicans so much that I want them to be better. I want them to love themselves the way they are, not to think that we are white and somebody else is black. I want them to take care of the ecosystem, to have a better education. These are all the things that I cherish in my work because I love them so much. It’s an act of love, my work. At least that’s the way I see it. [. . .]

[Tiana Reid is ARC’s Junior Arts Writer. Her work has appeared in or on Bitch, The Feminist Wire, Hyperallergic, Maisonneuve Magazine, The New Inquiry, The State, The Toast, VICE, and more.]

For full interview, go to http://arcthemagazine.com/arc/2015/01/fugitive-aura-in-conversation-with-polibio-diaz/

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