We had the good fortune of connecting with Juan Cardenas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Juan, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
I have always believed that art is one of the best ways to communicate and help society, generating a healthy discussion, interaction, and rotation of ideas. Art allows you to express and share ideas, feelings, and emotions at the same time, and it only exists to the extent that it is consumed, that it is seen, that it is digested; for that very reason it is necessarily social, bilateral. My art has always had that intention: generate conversation, generate questions, judgments, and exchange ideas. Some projects lately, like my related Boudoir and Burlesque photography, seek to support female empowerment, still so far from achieving gender equality. Both forms of art can be powerful tools for women to express much as a person, and being part of it, I seek the same thing, to express much more than just sensuality, without setting it aside. It is important that those women who want to continue expressing their sexual or sensual side, can continue to do so without being classified superficial or some other derogatory label; A woman who finds pleasure in expressing sensuality on my view is obviously capable of endless other abilities and skills. In this I seek to be complicit in this. I think that being a protester is beneficial for the moment we live in, for today’s society. In which there is no social equity, gender equity, race equity, etc. Being a part and openly expressing a message of confidence, of personal security and openness through photography, can help could support women and our society to improve from within, to grow faster and break stereotypes, taboos, to remove retrograde ideas that do not contribute to increase it. My photography will always be objective and respectful, even when on occasions like in these couple of examples, it is cheeky and “Scandalous”, when it touches on controversial issues. As a business, as a professional, I seek to deliver the best of attitudes, always respectful towards the trust that is given to me. In another project called Voluntary Nakedness, I play with that confidence, the one that a model grants to a photographer when undressing, comparing it with the nudity and vulnerability that we all grant to someone else at certain moments. That kind of trust generates important ties, makes us empathetic, understand the other, respect them, or at least tolerate them. We should not and do not have to agree with all the ideas around us, but we must find enough humanity to at least tolerate them. In these series I try to express it like this, when someone gives you their trust, opens and exposes themselves to you, important communication and perfect harmony could be developed.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Today I think I have the maturity to say that it has not been easy or difficult, my artistic career has simply traveled the path that corresponded to it, and with this I want to say that by being tied to my emotions, my feelings and ideas, I don’t I could have gone neither faster nor slower; I was the one who chose (sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse) the rhythm. And so, I have come to where I am, still far from reaching some of my minimal goals, such as the publication of a book of poetry, and some others of photography, mainly some collaborations to create graphic novels; but happy of the achievements that I have already had, of several of the photographic, literary, journalistic publications, or exhibitions of my art in different cities. There have been many lessons. The main one and the one I would like to share is not to get carried away by trends. Many artists count the years, I am 25 years old, and I have not achieved this. At the age of 30, this other artist had already achieved this. Especially in the United States I have found this systematization and automation creepy. Scary. One must be joyful and confident to let go at the pace one must, without fearing that their art or profession will be distinguished from the trends, or find no place, or be separated. It is evident that belonging to groups can help, that getting on the train can sometimes take you faster; and if you, do it perfect, but also, good for you. Any different step can generate frustration, despair, and therefore failure. Adopt what you like, don’t care what you don’t, but don’t unnecessarily sell something you don’t feel.
For example, as an artist, it is very easy to get carried away by the classic image, of a stormy, tragic, selfish, abstract, carefree personality isolated from the modern world. I admit that many times as an artist you find yourself being selfish, inconsiderate, perhaps giving importance to a project above other things that are more important to others. And you feel something inside that burns you, eats you up and drives you to continue. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. Balance it I guess it’s a permanent process, at least in my case it still is. But I have been able to understand for many years that there is no stereotype of artistic personality that I must fulfill to be successful.
The meaning of my nickname, Desautomatas is just that, seek to rethink everything, stop and question yourself, dare to change your mind, your affiliation, to abandon your totems and idols, to question everything… and then do it again. Desautomatas is to get out of the automatic response, which you already bring for a systematization and indoctrination.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
But instead, I’d take you to Dino’s one of those nights (or all of them). One of the funniest dive bars I’ve ever seen, a biker karaoke bar on Vegas Boulevard, where, and this is the special thing, you’re going to witness an unheard parade of elements, sometimes it seems unreal. The people who go there are unique, it makes you wonder where they came from, where they live, what they do during the week, how they got there, how their life has been. Etc. Sometimes you fantasize, sometimes you imagine, sometimes you talk to them, sometimes you just look at them, laugh and share a night of fun. But the place has a magic to make you forget what is artificial and automatic in life, because it is also physically nothing special, in fact, on the contrary, it is not very nice lol; but if you know how to see what is valuable and you forget that first impact, if you give it a chance, you will find that it is a wonderful place where you will spend a great time. That’s what I’m looking for when sharing my time with someone. I always want to go, and this also happens when I travel, to those places where reality happens, where locals share time, where the heart of each city beats. But where the scum also lives, where the criminals or undesirables are. Because we are all part of this society, of these cities. I can be for someone an admirable artist, and for others a person who has no place in their lives and should leave. We can all be outcasts, it depends on the perspective of the other, in those kinds of places I like to share and coexist.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
All my success, professional and personal, is shared. Without a doubt, I have to make a direct call to my wife and partner Alethia Olmedo, for the growth that in our years together has helped me to achieve, also having the confidence to be honest with me, in what I do well, in what I do badly, and everything in between; and above all in sharing mutual value to continue growing, to continue evolving without getting stuck in youthful ideas, in stereotypes. Our time together has been full of discoveries, surprises, head butts and acceptance, the good and the bad. In addition to her, it would be impossible to finish mentioning different people, family, friends, characters whom I never met but they left me with something, authors, musicians, artists. My success has been and will continue to be shared.