Nana del Riego is a photographer born in 1996 in Havana, Cuba. Educated at the National Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro and the University of Fine with distinction in Cuba, she is now living in Mexico City. Although her background is in painting, she has transitioned into the field of digital photographer, preferring the immediacy and “reality” in it that echoes line with current times, where photography appears as king of social networks, advertisements, magazines, tabloids, etc.
Referencing Cindy Sherman, Annie Leibovitz, David LaChapelle Alexander McQueen in addition to the influence received from social networks, which are endless galleries of human behavior. Working mostly with self-portraits, her photography works the presence of the female body.
Statement from the artist:
I am interested in the environments in which I regularly coexist, but I do not intend to use them to discuss on domesticity because it is surprising all that they are capable of transmitting to me in a more intimate second reading. The environments in which we unfold our existence, reflect our way of life, society, socioeconomic status, etc. In my condition as a Cuban, my insularity, my feeling of being trapped is also transmitted in most of my images as I always show closed and common environments, limitation of movements, freedom or imaginary events that make me feel enclosed as a Cuban.
It is obvious that in plastic arts and more so in photography, there has been a use and abuse of the female image, mainly by women, who have traditionally focused on gender work, on the body as an object of exploration. In my case, I prefer the female body because in it I recognize a metaphor for our modernity. A woman is undoubtedly the image representing modern times, an object of desire for men and of worship for women themselves. In advertising, social networks, media or basically any digital or real scenario, the woman is the image that seduces the masses, and thus becomes a product in itself. The aesthetics of my work is strongly inspired by the aesthetics of good living that the aforementioned media and platforms show us; the aestheticizing process of everyday life that human beings promote based on their own lives or the lives they yearn to achieve is made ironically evident in my photographs… ‘The civilization of the spectacle,’ as Vargas Llosa would call it.”
Of course, talking about global concerns and Anglo-Saxon aesthetic ideals may sound somewhat abstract to some, considering that in Cuba you only see the outside world by glimpses, since it becomes difficult to escape, not only physically, but psychologically from this Tropical Alcatraz, where tiny snippets of information are received.
In Cuba, after so many years of rejection and ignorance imposed regarding the outside world, (here, “the outside” represents an enigma, an aspiration or an enemy, “the outside” is always suspicious, often negative), there is so much emptiness of knowledge, that speaking about such topics seems superfluous, almost sinful. I always recall people asking me at I.S.A (Higher Institute of Arts), why I was studying art, instead of fashion design. Those inquiring me were simply predisposed by the aesthetics of my work, that at first glance was not “committed to society”, as they told me. Why don’t you do something with a “poorer” aesthetic, with old clothes or kitch, something that really talks about Cuba, they would ask. But I believe the concern embodied in my work become now more pressing than ever , since they undoubtedly reflect a complex Cuba from the social and cultural point of view, where new more global languages are inserted . We now recognize among us new types of citizens with whom we relate feeling an insatiable thirst for what comes from outside, without knowing how to adjust all this to our daily lives, reinterpreting aesthetic codes and appropriating cultural patterns very distant from our implacable environment. (At least among all those I count myself).
- Widewalls, Reclaiming the Image of a Female Body – In Conversation with Nana del Riego, https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/nana-del-riego-interview