Polibio Diaz is a photographer from Barahona, Dominican Republic, His work has been featured in the Venice Biennale and the Brooklyn Museum. Diaz also serves as Cultural Adviser for the Dominican Minister of Foreign Affairs. His art, he says, is "oriented first and foremost toward my fellow Dominicans."
You, the viewer, the unhurried passerby, see an open door. Inside, flora, fauna, and gimcracks jump out, a crowded and colorful interior. It arouses the neighbor's envy, and if all that isn't enough its inhabitants call attention to themselves even more, by playing the stereo as loud as possible (Bachata or Reggaeton), so it's impossible for them to go unnoticed. It's no coincidence we've been declared the second happiest country in the world, though we don't have a nickel to our names.
I present my Dominican interiors as polyptychs, multi-layered single shots which may then be broken apart and reconstructed. It's as if the shot itself is composed of puzzle pieces. The result resembles a collage. I like to refer to these photographs as my sancocho, a Dominican dish that mixes elements of the Spanish and Caribbean cultures.
While studying photography and civil engineering in the United States, I learned about the art of several masters--Eadweard Muybridge's motion capture, Edward Weston's soft focus, Cartier Bresson's eye, Walter Evans's humanity, Eugene Atget's intense vision--that have formed the foundation of my sancocho. When I returned to Santo Domingo and began taking photographs, I employed the works of these individuals in developing my own style, which combines American Expressionism with a variety of European Caribbean influences.
The mark America made on me was not at all academic. Quite the contrary. Without my American training, I would never have acquired the ingredients I needed to develop a unique and honest sancocho. When I click the shutter or...