Contemporary photography
Chatting with Norlys Perez from La Habana

From the other side of the Atlantic and behind a computer screen, today we talk with Norlys Pérez about contemporary photography.

The only way to make your work known is to believe in the creativity which you yourself stamp on it.

Contemporary artist Norlys Perez : Contemporary Photography

Typing from more than 7,000 kilometres away is not always easy. Alongside the problem of the time difference with the Habana is the problem of, at best, limited Internet access, which Cubans struggle with. Nonetheless the desire and passion for a job, which manages to draw a smile on a daily basis, is worth far more than a broadband Internet connection. There in front of the screen, which is almost certainly similar to our own, we find a young cuban artist. Norlys Perez age 27 is a contemporary photographer, both by trade and by vocation.

Irremediably hooked to photography (’til death do us part). He played at his passion in the Fondo Iberoamericano (Latin American photographic association) and in the Fototeca de Cuba (Cuban photographic library) and fell so far in love that to this day he has never recovered. He currently combines his job as a photojournalist in a Provincial newspaper with his work photographing weddings and birthdays. He does not mind this as he insists that what is important is to endow every job with professionalism whatever its size.

What are we going to find in the exhibition “The intermittences of rhythm”?

The intermittences of (the) rhythm” offers us the opportunity to reflect on the similarities and differences present in every moment of our existence regardless of our position in time. I build the discourse by putting the characters into real and contradictory situations, which break with the ascending or descending rhythm, which is imposed upon many of us by life. Rather than trying to document the environment of the subjects, the intention is for the observer to find the interconnections existing between the pieces.

Norlys Pérez Contemporary Artist: Contemporary PhotographyIs there a personal story behind each photograph?

Each of these images is linked to my experiences as a Cuban, my birthplace in “Another Postcard from Cuba”, my neighbours in “Neighbouring childhood”. These photographs show my experiences in the last three years, the children from the neighbourhood and that cyclic sensation that comes upon me when I see all of these united together.

From the joy transmitted in, for example, “Neighbouring Childhood” to the sorrow of “We are Numbers” …

I try to counterbalance one image with another in the search for the interrelatedness of moods and situations which we are presented with by daily life, it is not however my intention to focus on extremes.

Alongside each personal story it is also a long-term process, with more than three years of learning…

Yes, in effect. This exhibition is the culmination of an intensive period of learning, and searching, leading me to more conceptual pieces such as “The threshold and I”. I try on each occasion to shift my work further away from the physical representation of the human, while still catching my personal experiences, of which my social self is a result. These images were captured between the end of 2009 and the beginning of this year.

7,000 kilometres and numerous cultural differences separate us. How do you manage to give your imagination free rein and also cross frontiers?

I believe that creativity is in our own mind, in our everyday life. In my case I have to photograph common everyday situations, as a result of the dynamics of my job as a photojournalist. I always try to give my work a different perspective, a personal touch that identifies it as mine. For this reason, I believe that the only way to make your work known and appreciated, inside and outside the confines of your own nation, is in effect through the creativity you yourself stamp on it.

One of the principal complications for Cuban artists when trying to become known internationally is the problem of accessing Internet and social networks. Does everything cost twice the effort?

Yes it is more difficult. Within Cuba the route is through participation in competitions, and by exhibiting in galleries, which, in the majority of cases, is possible free of charge providing the artist supplies certain basic resources such as the printing costs, and the mounting and fixtures for the exhibition. Sometimes it’s possible, depending on the worth of the work, to get local or provincial, media to write a review of the exhibition.

The majority of artists dream of achieving wide spread fame… Is this complicated?

That depends; in my own case my work is seen by more than 10 thousand people a week in the newspaper. And to this must be added the visits my work can receive when I post it on the social networks via my blog.
Watch Modern Art Exhibitions - Art Gallery Plastike -  Norlys Pérez

Is it possible to make a living from art?

That depends whether you are an artist who sells, and has exhibitions in important galleries inside and outside Cuba. If this is the case then yes, but for me it’s different, although I work as a professional photographer and receive a salary for doing so, I still have to do other work to support me. But in general terms yes; I make a living from my work. I am just as likely to restore the image of a deceased relative as to act as photographer at a wedding; I just try to carry out each of these jobs with the maximum professionalism.

How much does censorship punish the artist?

In the case of artists this is not so strict, you can create, the way in which you do this, the originality of the discourse is what will make you successful. Sometimes self-censorship is more of a barrier.



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