Artist María Martínez-Cañas in “Staging the Self” – National Portrait Gallery


(Music) My name is María Martínez-Cañas and I was born in Cuba, grew up in Puerto Rico and I’m an American citizen. The series is called “Duplicity as Identity” and it’s the idea that we have have multiple selves in a way and depending sometimes
on who we are talking to, we change and we are a different person you know when is it that we’re really ourselves truly a hundred percent and does anybody really know us a hundred percent. It came about because I was questioning I have been dealing and thinking about issues of identity my entire life as an artist I came upon this contact sheet that somebody has taken of my dad in the
1970s and he was in those images about the same age that I was when I did the series. so I decided to see if I could recreate that contact sheet. It has been taking with a medium format camera the images were in film and I decided that I wanted to also take the images of myself in film, and that to me was important
because I wanted the same quality of imagery as the one that my dad had and when I overlapped my image on top of his to make sure that they fit, I realized that our faces match perfectly. I didn’t have to scale or transform
anything and you know I knew that I looked like him
but I never noticed how much and you know when I confronted
this kind of realization, it kind of made me start thinking about you know who we are and when I was much younger, you know the
issue of identity, graphic identity was very important to me. you know knowing where I come from, who I am and what makes me who I am. and suddenly, I realized that now I
was dealing with issues of identity but as an adult and somebody that was much older and to the point that I realized that when I was talking to him now when I talk to him in front of him, I will sometimes look at him and realize that you know, I might be looking at myself at his age and it’s really interesting and that
kind of brought from one thing to the other and I decided to do the series of “Duplicity as Identity”. The using of the medium is a way to understanding yourself. I think that it is something that I have
done you know always Sometimes I say that my work is reaction to the things that happened in my life. For me, instead of writing, I take pictures and that’s something that is visually my vocabulary It’s what I use to understand and to
speak many times.

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