J. Culebro is a photographer and audiovisual producer, activist and engineer originally from Chiapas, Mexico. Culebro’s photographic work explores solitary fragments of urban landscapes, unknown characters, memories, objects and abstractions of reality. His work has a special interest regarding climate change, sustainability and environmental conflicts. He define his work as a “mixture of cinematic style peppered with darkness and mystery.
The presented pictures assembled by Jaime Culebro use the camera as a sort of a storytelling medium, but there is a catch:
At first glance the viewer might be able to recognise some references to iconic painters from Finnish national art: I, personally, perceive certain sober dramatism familiar from Gallen-Kallela ́s mid 1890’s obscure paintings, for instance, as well as the elements of taxidermy and masked characters that Culebro seems to bring in response to Ferdinand von Wright’s bird paintings. Both examples show Culebro's effort to portray a narrative that goes deep into the fictional realm, but not only.
Knowing Culebro for some years now, it is clear to me that he also pulls elements from his immediate life into his photographic art work. Life and photography seem to be inherently connected in the photographer's eye considering that, contentwise, the author tends to tell and capture his rusty journeys through Helsinki (and his history with Europe) as part of overall semantics. At the same time, the images in this serie were composed catching the momentum and utilising the surrounding or complementary elements into the scenery; so, therefore, these photographs could be essentially considered ‘documentary’ for the same reason that they aren't. His work, factually and empirically, connects fiction and reality, and the usage of film (Mamiya Rb67) is reinforced by the author's intention to portray uniqueness through technical precision. On one hand, Culebro makes a persistent usage of 'incidental sceneries', because there’s neither studio nor are there staged moments. The pictures are a mystery but the places and people remain a snatch into the intimacy of the photographer (his son, his house, his masks, his view, and even his silent states of mind). In parallel, the photographer explores broader concepts connected to his individual history such as fatherhood, diaspora, mental illness, self awareness, animosity and childhood.
In summary, there is something odd in Culebro’s work. Something that resembles a broken narrative which is not obvious, because the photo series portray its storyline in abstract and, yet, its elements are as real and daily as those moments that ultimately remain closed to the viewer. Quite refreshing and disturbing, poetic, I might say, and, therefore, an intrigue.
Daniel Malpica, Punavuori, 2022