Citlali Fabian is a Mexican photographer from the state of Oaxaca. She holds a B.A. in Photography from the Universidad Veracruzana and a Certificate in Photographic Preservation and Collection Management from the George Eastman Museum. Citlali's work has been published in the New York Times and Remezcla amongst others and exhibits her work in the U.S. and Mexico. Her work is focused on ways to explore the concept of identity. She develops her projects using modern film and 19th century processes as Wet Plate Collodion and Daguerreotype.
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The following images and text are from our talk with Citlali Fabian:
"When I started to study photography itself, I noticed and I was really shocked to see how photography helped to construct a way to see the world and how much impact it had on the way that developed countries see non-developed countries. It was interesting to see and look at the position of these vulnerable groups through the history of photography. I think for me it was relevant to put a woman in them, precisely as an example, I'm not sure if it’s the same term here, but in Mexico we call them the invisible mothers. All these portraits from 19th century where you can just see a child and you don't see the mother because the mother was covered. So through history and through the history of photography, native groups and vulnerable groups have been misrepresented in a kind of way. This is not a representation, it’s more like a dream of a thing."
"Ben’n Yalhalhj is from Zapotec and means ‘I am from Yalalag’. I’ve been shooting photos of Yalalag since I started to do photography because it is my parents' hometown but I kinda grew up there too cause I was going there often, not just on holidays, but on weekends too, I was kind of part of it. I try to keep in touch with my community and show us in the ways that we want. It's really important for you to keep that connection with the people and talk about what is interesting for us to show."
"Mestiza is a concept from the colonial times in Mexico and it means half-blood and it's used to refer to a person who is supposed to be half European, Spanish and half indigenous. The term was used to make people feel like they were not pure in some kind of way, but also to just make them less. I see our Mexican culture as a Mestiza culture. There are parts of being Mestiza that we always pushed away, especially when you're referring to the indigenous part. Nowadays there is a recognition about being native. There's more recognition about our roots and there is more appreciation about the heritage of the different people in the world, and I think that's awesome, but that happened during my generation. My father's generation was exactly the opposite. When they were growing up, they were like, you shouldn't speak your native language, that's why you are poor or that's why you can’t progress in the world. I think with this stigma growing, it was interesting to me to explore it and to precisely honor these ancestral roots."
An American Flag
"I started this project while I was an artist in residency in the Flower City Center of Arts in Rochester. Looking at the landscape you can say so much about the community itself and honestly I was surprised when I saw so many flags outside the homes because that's not usual in Mexico. When I was paying attention to this, it was during the gap between pre-election and post-election time. I had the chance to move between neighborhoods and see the differences between these neighbors. How someone's flag was more decorative and other ones were more like a political statement. I'm on the side of trump or I'm not on the side of trump. Like I'm against this administration or not. So for me that was really interesting. It helps you to measure the temperature of a neighborhood. Parts of it were shocking, on the same block, I have a people who evidently are supporting the administration, and at the end of the block is another one that is saying fuck you. So sorry for the word. But that's the truth. And they are living together in the same city and they are separated by just a couple of homes."
"For me doing analog photography is part of my creative process. It is not just because I like the technique and enjoy being in the darkroom, but I like to take the time to produce my images. I like to shoot, and maybe after a week I go to the darkroom and develop the film. I like that feeling when you finally see your image fixing. And to me that's exciting. It's the most enjoyable part about doing photography. And I know that comes from how I started to do photography. Maybe if I started doing digital since the beginning, I would never have had that feeling. I feel like that's the way I keep my feet on the ground."
"Never stop learning and you should never stop sharing your work with others. The recognition of these series' came especially after I participated in a portfolio review in Houston, one of the editors of the New York Times saw the work and he liked the work, so there I go.
It's good to being open to new people, to other opportunities, especially, I think here (NYC), there are so many events where you can go and if you are living here. Just try to connect more with people and I think that that's what works.
When I was living in Rochester I had the chance to see alot of photography and I think that's the only way to learn about photography, seeing photography. I think the best investment is books, you are gonna have a lot of inspiration there.
I think in general in the world, artists are really punished because you need to have another source off money, it’s not easy and I’ve been lucky. Sometimes you choose between having film in the frigerator or having food. It is like that and it's something that we laugh about it, but it’s not funny because an artist is always going to work to be able to work.
Pursue and believe in what are you doing."