Juan Roberto Diago Durruthy stems from a long-established family of black Cuban artists and intellectuals whose credentials are well documented. I would like to draw attention to the way of placing racial identity before national identity in sentences such as this since its use is still a taboo in many of our discourses and writings, probably because of the fear of incurring discriminatory or racist expressions.
The photographic work of Diago is direct and sincere, without fixating on aesthetics. A secret alliance or complicity arises between the subject and the photographer, something that many photographers do not achieve. This effect results from either their large light boxes assembled from rough wood boards like the rickety houses that one finds in many slums or, when they are simple photos, from a message written by the person photographed in his own handwriting. Diago’s photography has the peculiarity of capturing black people just as they are, in their daily lives, without giving them time to pose. The faces reflect the subjects’ true state of mind, revealing the upset beneath a smile, or the pride and satisfaction of being represented with objectivity and not edulcorated or translated. Sometimes, in addition to the photograph, the artist keeps a filmed recording of what the subject told him about his/her life and difficulties, as in the photograph from the series Donde el Dolor no Duele.
Technique: Light box on wood, digital photo, acrylic, electric wires
Size: 84 x 74 x 12 cm