CUAUHTEMOC SUAREZ

I have a hard time trying to remember how it was for me at the beginning, but I sure remember I was way more shy and by consequence my work was very different. Seeing it in retrospective, I can see now that when I was working with a woman doing portraits it was hard to ask whatever I was wanting to do. But one of the main things that photography has taught me it's to have confidence on what I do and what I am. For me taking portraits always gets me nervous or anxious, and that thrill it's probably the most important reason why I keep doing it, because working with someone and expecting that person to have confidence in you capturing their essence demands of you doing the same and giving yourself into the experience you're living. So I now think that the capacity of confidence that I have is something I find when I confront my fears and when I put myself in a position of discomfort. When I feel the adrenaline of doing something that is a challenge for me, I know I have the chance of stay on my comfort zone or also do nothing, but I try to force myself into keep up with the challenge.

 

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I started taking photos in 2008 and by 2009 I was taking women's portraits. I had a period before started doing it when I was kind of against it, but I realized it was just my insecurity acting out. Women were always something very important for me, I was always in love with some beautiful girl when I was a kid and a teenager, and every time I just kept realizing different details that made me fall more in love. So I guess shooting these portraits started as a tribute to that time in my life. I always have been around women that I find so beautiful and when I was studying psychology for six years pretty much all of my schoolmates were girls. So my curiosity about girls and the way the are, having an encounter with my curiosity of understanding the way the mind works. Of course recently it's deeper than that, because picturing women is such a responsability nowadays that we are more aware of how media had treated them in the past. So I try to shoot them and show a complete self. --Show them being sexy doesn't have to be against showing them being interesting in many other ways as well, and viceversa.

 

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"Nudity doesn't have to be sexual, and it's not. When it is, who cares? It could be fucking beautiful." -- Hattie Watson

First of all, I love everything about Hattie Watson and I agree completely with her, I don't think I could put it that way, and that's part of the reason I love to work with women, because they have such a sensibility and appreciation for details that I never get to think of. And working with different women leads me to very different results, because connecting with someone and participating in the experience of creating something together is pure magic for me. That's why I think that being aware of the impact of nudity at this time doesn't necessarily mean that you have to impose your perspective above others who take responsibility about what they're doing. Ideologies are not supposed to be above free will.

 

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Primarily, a look followed by a feeling is what drives me in choosing who to work with. There's of course something visual that made me notice someone, but it doesn't necessarily have to do with the physical, it could be the attitude, the way of talking, the way someone behaves. But all of that is just kind of a filter. I'm more focused on working with people who are in a similar process than I am. I mean, people who are concerned about different aspects of existence and at the same time with the capacity of not taking themselves so seriously all the time. For me, right now is fundamental; a vision of confronting fears and get naked not just physically but mentally and spitirually. I'm working on finding a way of showing this very subjective matter in my work. I'm not sure if I'm going to achieve it, but I think that's the path I'm chasing now, and that's the reason I'm trying to work with the same models and trying to show more of them and, of course, more of myself.

 

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I'm trying to be more honest and to put myself out when we're working, so the people I'm working with feel good being themselves the way they are, in the most intimate way that is possible for someone in front of a camera. I don't think I'm where I want to be about this, but that is what keeps me interested in doing these portraits. I think when I stop finding something exciting or challenging about what I do, I will stop doing it and focus on something that makes me curious. 

It's not that I wasn't honest before, it's just that I have a bigger understanding of myself and what I do. So I think before, I was connecting with the girls that I work with concerning issues that I don't see as important as they were for me at that moment, like smoking weed or showing their panties. But there were some other things that I keep in my mind, like how I can keep portraying intimacy in a deeper way.

 

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I love youth because I learn so much from them. Sometimes they know exactly what they want to wear, some other times they give me choices from their wardrobe and I pick something and in some occasions I collaborate with a brand who dress them. Actually that bodysuit was a gift from a friend's mom of Ursula (The girl on the photo). I try to not push any idea too far, because they have to be comfortable all the time when you're trying to portrait real aspects of them.

 

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One of the most challenging aspects of my work, but one that I'm grateful for is: Having to work with other people with very different backgrounds and perspectives on life and giving something different of myself every time. This is something occupying a lot of time and energy in my mind and soul. --Because I don't want to feel that I'm just repeating a formula, you know? I know I could take photos of different subjects which I do from time to time, but for me right now going deep on this matter feels like the path to follow. And I sense this exploring is taking me somewhere that is uncertain to me right now.

 

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I think as long as we grow up, we get to understand what is really important to us if we pay attention to ourselves. We get to understand and accept the darkness and the brightness, get rid of the things that we don't need and learn to live with everything else. And if you add the fact that we're just a tiny bit of human existence and we humans are a little moment on this planet in this big universe, then of course I'm optimistic, because that makes my presence here something so little that I can try to do whatever the fuck I want to do with it, and have a good time doing it.

 

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Some friend told me that the end of civilization would be caused by people stopping having kids, because of the difficulties of life right now and on our horizon, and even if this sound promising and talking about the consciousness of new generations, I have difficulty to agree. I just watched a couple of days ago Ex Machina and Avengers: Age of Ultron from 2015 and The Terminator from 1984, and what struck me the most is not the idea of A.I. realizing humanity is sabotaging itself and trying to destroy it because of it, but the fact that we depend so much on technology and artificiality, that if all of that collapses, we're done as a civilization. When I think of interactions as monetary exchange right now (where you just use your phone to pay a service, as a change to paying with your card, as a change to paying with bills, as a change to paying with coins made of precious metals, as a change to paying with an exchange of work), all I can think is that we're supposing that we have everything we work for on a system that is falling apart and we get to see it everyday (EU's present is a big example of this). But I'm not trying to be moral about it, or say that we have to go to basics or something like that. I'm trying to observe what is going on. My only conclusions are that we humans have tools that artificiality can't be reproduced such as love and empathy that I think ultimately are that things on what civilization could rebuild.

 























Cuauhtemoc Suarez // ttttemo

 

JUNNNKTANK is an online zine which has existed in one form or another since 2006.
For over a decade, the focus has been on highlighting the efforts of inspiring individuals and artists from around the world.

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