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JUAN CARLOS ZALDIVAR

filmmaker / video artist

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ARTIST STATEMENT

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Identity is at the core of my work be it personal, cultural or otherwise. This creative preoccupation comes from  my family's immigration from Cuba on a boat across one of the most treacherous straights of water in the world. I made an award-winning documentary, which broadcasted nationally on PBS about this experience entitled "90 MIles”.

I see cultural identity as a symptom of a larger, existential question we humans grapple with: How do we reconcile our "idea" of ourselves --which is simultaneously unshakeable but also intangible-- with the physical body we inhabit? At its core, video encapsulates this identity crisis. Most of us would agree that our essence on earth is migratory. A video also migrates forms. It can be experienced through a projector, a TV or a computer, but its contents persist.  

I am interested in building community through my work because I believe that humans need community to barter experiences, not to "network", as we often are taught. Networking is what machines do, but then again, humans are finally "becoming" digital (though some would argue that we are simply finally acknowledging our digital nature).

I have recently been reborn as digital. My film and visual art projects explore the transformation of physical form --and our perceptions of it.

I am interested in the relationship between nature and artificial constructions because it often triggers larger questions about our humanity. I find that a dialogue between these two elements often spins other dialogues regarding identity, history, transculturalism and acceptance at large.

I am the guinea pig of my own experiments, for which I use light, sound and kinetics, which are what films and videos are made of. I do this because film and video are optical illusions, yet they are widely accepted as veridic or “truthful” in our culture and have become integral to how we understand and create our reality. My work explores the tension between reality (which may be subjective and often relates to perception) and actuality (which often relates to the effect of actions of a body in existence). I apply these notions to objects, places and to other human bodies and brains.

I believe that humor is often the best tool to communicate complex ideas and concepts. I like loose narratives. I love Butoh dance and time-lapse animation (both of which deconstruct movement and time, respectively). I respect the defining properties of negative space and the invisible. This includes sound and magnetism, which often create fantastic and bewildering effects.

I worked as a sound editor and designer for many years. I often do not use sound in my video installations, but when I do, it is an essential part of the work.