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Personae – an Exhibition by Mexican-American photographer Carlos David

A photo exhibition entitled Personae is on display in the lobby of the Ministry of Culture. Mexican-American portrait photographer Carlos David explores the complex relationship between how we see ourselves and the way we present ourselves to others. The exhibition is on display until February 22, 2022.

Superman | Author Carlos David

The photographer invited a diverse group of individuals from New York to the portrayal – people who are connected by experiences of violence (domestic, ideological), conflicts (ethnic, war, racial and others) and trauma. In dialogue with the photographer, the portrayed parties explore and reveal their hidden fantasies, dreams and alter egos.

Through working with stigmatized and marginalized groups, the artist strives to establish a new form of dialogue between the observer and the subject, while at the same time drawing attention to current and pressing social issues employing fantasy themes.

Respect for diversity and promoting inclusion are at the forefront of the artist's work.

 Mexican-American photographer Carlos David was shortlisted for the 2021 Aesthetica Art Prize this year. In 2019, he was a fellow of the LMCC (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) and the UMEZ (Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone). His works have been exhibited in New York (USA), Mexico City (Mexico), Rovinj (Croatia) and York (UK).

You can see the exhibition live in the lobby of the Ministry of Culture as well as on this site.

Personae – an Exhibition by Mexican-American photographer Carlos David

Text by Lavoslav Benčić

Personae [perso: 'ne:] is a Latin term for a person and translated differently in many modern languages. The word is most likely of Etruscan origin and meant a ritual mask (phersu) worshiped by the goddess Persephone, queen of the underworld. The meaning of the word personae has gradually developed since antiquity: from the "mask" through the "bearer of the mask," i.e., the "actor" to the "social role of the person" in life. This social role, personae, means an important person because of their characteristic influence in society or wealth.

In Personae's multi-year art project, Mexican-American portrait photographer Carlos David (with experience as a writer and actor) explores the complex relationship between the ideal and the actual image with utmost dedication and professionalism.

In close and in-depth collaboration with people belonging to engaging marginalized and underrepresented communities in American society, Carlos David experiments with photographic and video media, set design, masks, and costumes to approach the alter ego of his carefully chosen portraiture. In this more than just a photographic process, the person portrayed explores and reveals more profound and hidden parts of themselves. The photographer tries to visualize the experience of how he sees himself in idealized and fantastic circumstances - in imagination and dreams. In objective reality, then latent moving images on screens and materialized large-format prints reveal to the viewer how the fantasies and dreams of the portrayed are captured in typical poses within an emotional, light- and shadow-colored scene.

For the photographic and video portraiture of Personae project, Carlos David collaborated with people from diverse communities who share the experience of conflict and/or trauma. It includes individuals from marginalized areas who are actively committed to eliminating or reducing the stigma of physical and mental disabilities, sexual orientation, women's rights, equality, and body image stereotypes in the media. The project aims to open a new path for dialogue between viewer and subject, an opportunity to express and explore, and alert society to critical issues and hardships of people who do not find adequate support in society.

However, to emphasize that we all live in the same world, everyone in the video poses in a unified space, where only the color of lights, shadows, and the movement of air masses let us know that everything around us is variable and that even if you stand at peace the world revolves in its own way and affects your image.

Thus, in the medium of photography, video, and virtual reality, Carlos David opens a new space for dialogue between viewers and depicted subjects. It creates favorable conditions in which project participants explore and express their challenges. By jointly creating and collaborating fictionalized content, they draw attention to local and global critical social problems in their case. The Personae project exemplifies how a wide range of people can feel good in their social environment if it understands, protects, and enables them to stay and develop there.

Carlos David's photographs materialized with large-format inkjet printers on cotton paper, crossed six time zones in 2019 from El Barrio's Artspace PS109 in East Harlem (NY) to the Batana Visual Arts Center in Rovinj (Croatia), where we had the honor and the privilege of conducting the European premiere of the first part of the Personae project. The continuation of the Personae project is returning to Europe just before Christmas. This is expected during the period of limited access to cultural institutions and exhibition spaces - seven video works in extended virtual space and fourteen large-format photographs will be in the lobby of the Ministry of Culture. Disagreement and polarization of views and opinions in resolving the Covid-19 crisis proved a solid fact and emphasized the message that we are very different with all our shortcomings and virtues.

Personae Credits

Carlos David – Creator / Photographer 
Carlos Bido – Filmmaker 
Janet Mervin – Costume Designer 
Jason Linkow – Beauty Director
Maiko Ando – Makeup Artist 
Giannina Gutierrez – Makeup Artist
Sadhvi Babu – Makeup Artist 
Jennifer Green – Makeup Artist
Mercedes Gorostiaga – Location portraits and behind the scenes photos
Veronica Galvez – Associate Producer
Daniel Nelson – Creative Consultant
Peiyi Wong – Set Design Consultant
Elliott Ortiz – Media Relations 
Sarah Rubio – PA 

Special thanks to Lisa Cohler, Pako Dominguez, Rolinda Ramos, UMEZ, LMCC, NYC Cultural Affairs, Printique, ARTiKo.