Los santiagueros, siglo XXI
Is it possible that I sometimes feel like my identity is stumbling? It is that we do not have - or possess - a single identity. Ticio Escobar taught me to understand that identities can be various, that they fluctuate, that they manifest a process full of displacements and transits, and that it is part of a self-recognition that the subject must exercise in order to understand their belonging to a diverse social framework. The series Los santiagueros, siglo XXI, conceived and enriched between the years 2000 and 2019, is discursively and visually anchored in this question of identity, belonging, identification –or not– with a space that has been transformed with the weather.
I am a purebred Santiaguero. I was born and raised in Santiago de Cuba. That was my home and my identity grid until 1995, the year in which I emigrated to the United States. However, that weird connection, that symbolic fine string that ties me to Santiago, is still latent in me. I have experienced, over the years and during my visits to the city, mixed feelings, a passionate chaos when I walk through its streets and dialogue with its people: love / hate, distance / closeness, indifference / affection, emptiness / fullness. It was in this city where my ancestors lived, where I grew up and was taught during the first years of my life: Santiago is that place that I always call "home", not by dwelling in it but for feeling it.
This feeling of connection led me, from year 2000, to travel to the city on different occasions, despite the restrictions that existed for Cuban Americans at the beginning of the century to arrive on the island. The reunion with the city's plot and the heat of the people of Santiago, the evolution that the city had undergone, the memories it had and that, on many occasions, seemed to stop in time, were motivations that led me to record through the lens; something that later became in various series where Santiago is always the discursive nucleus.
In this series, the people of Santiago are the protagonists and the city is revealed in each photograph as I perceived it in the different moments that I revisited it. Although romanticism, and even a nostalgic nuance can be seen in these works, my intention is to reveal (to me) the reality of my hometown, the daily life of a place that has changed over the years, but continues to shake me, which leads me to question my identity, my identification with her, my place in her social bosom.