Can you tell us a bit about you?
I consider myself an “artivist”. I create socially engaged art that also uses beauty as a mean of emotional engagement with the public. I’m very involved in the process of creating the images, which has led me to become a good make-up artist, set and costume designer and digital artist. I love the process as much as the result.
I am originally from the North of Mexico and now I’ve made Montreal my home. I’m not attached to an idea of national pride and I’m grateful for each of the cultures that have nourished my work and myself.
Through my career I have created more than 60 exhibitions in Canada and internationally, notably in Washington D.C,at the Art Museum of the Americas, Miami at the Frost Museum, Mexico, South Korea at the MMCA Goyang Residency, Toronto, Montreal and New York, at the prestigious Tambaran gallery.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I like art and ideas that make me grow and expand my mind. Inspiration is not limited to other photographers. Activists, writers, musicians, friendships, nature, simple interactions can be great sources as well.
When I’m creating a project I’m methodical about my sources of inspiration and I keep folders on each of the projects gathering everything that I’m using as a source.
Dance and circus are a great inspiration to me. Performing arts allow me to deal with complex themes through an abstract representation that does not have to go through the articulation of ideas through verbal language. The resulting images become the imprint of a raw and emotional reaction.
A great deal of my inspiration comes from the artist who enable me to do my work, my great collaborators that elevate the quality of my images.
When working on a new project, what are the first steps you take?
Usually images start to form in my head as soon as I start to think on a project. When I decide to start a project I know it’s going to last for a while I start by doing research on the themes I’m exploring, I look for references, how does this topic has been explored previously. I look for the best ways to represent the topic and the best aesthetic solutions to communicate my vision.
Do you have a vision of what your artistic future might look like?
Definitely. I think the most important thing when you are an artist is having a vision. This doesn’t mean to have a painfully traced path for yourself, but to follow a set of values and goals for what you want to see being changed in the world.
My next project is called Terra Sapiens, a project that focuses in creating positive representations of the future based on current philosophical and scientific ideas that explore solutions to the greatest challenges humanity faces, such as climate change, planetary health and social innovation.
Why do you make art?
It would be harder not to. It is my calling, my vocation and my purpose. It’s a great and beautiful way to inspire people to be better, to question the status quo, to give the public a space outside their everyday life to reflect on themselves, on the world, to make them feel, to create connections higher than themselves and the artist itself.
My mission as an artist is to create meaning, to ask the right questions and to force people to engage emotionally with the topics they would rather not confront.
Emotional engagement. Through visual and immersive representation I am able to impact a large audience to engage with positive solutions. We artists and change-makers have the opportunity to directly or indirectly inspire by representing a multiethnic, gender and class egalitarian society working towards a common good.
Does your work engage with current events and contemporary society (if so, how?)
For me there is no difference between being an artist and being an active citizen. The only reason I start a project is for the positive impact that it will have on the community – local or global. The work that I do helps express complicated issues such as gender inequality or LGBT human rights in a way that is compelling and helps the public to engage in a way that they don’t feel threatened. For some of my models, and even for the public, the work is healing and cathartic. Such is the case of the female dancers that participated in my last series about gender inequality while under artistic residency in South Korea. They were able to articulate through their movement the instances of oppression and abuse that they had been subjected too.
I believe the rules that preside and perpetuate the construction of gender identities within the norm are used often as arguments to justify inequality between the various genders. Not only that, their rigidity often produce malaises that can turn into violence, hatred, and bigotry.
My work strives to question the character of those cultural laws. To confront the public with the idea that some traits of their character that they considered fixed or natural are not, and the same extends to everyone else. Understanding our differences and our similarities, the constructed character of our identities and the fact we can change them, are ways in which photographs can help us achieve gender equality and eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Damian Siqueiros profile on Singulart: https://www.singulart.com/fr/artiste/damian-siqueiros-284