Spotlight: Studio Lenca / José Campos
Studio Lenca is the working title for this year’s Brighton Photo Fringe Open SOLO award winner José Campos. The quality of submissions this year was very high and José is a worthy winner who uses a multi-disciplinary approach in his practice; incorporating photography, dance and audio visual performance. I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his practice and his journey through the arts.
The full series of work together with all of the festival exhibitions, workshops and events can be found at the Photofringe.org website.
Congratulations on winning this year’s SOLO award, can you tell me what winning the award means to you and how you intend utilise the opportunity in the current climate, especially as we are having to adapt to online exhibiting?
The greatest thing about winning the award is the visibility it brings to my series ‘Los Historiantes’. In the US and in El Salvador I have an audience that engages with the work I do but the award has given me the opportunity to share it with a UK audience on a greater platform. This also means that I am contributing to the narrative of Latinx people in the UK, which is rarely visible. Salvadoran people live all over the world so I am always thinking about how to connect with them. Working digitally means that I can collaborate with them and they can engage with the work I do. Due to the pandemic we have recently seen a shift in how we engage with each other. Salvadoran people have had to be apart from their families and loved ones since the late 80’s when we fled the country’s civil war.
José, Studio Lenca is the working title for your practice, can you please explain where the name comes from and how it relates in context to your work?
I like the term ‘Studio’ because I used to be a ballet dancer. The studio was an empty space where I could use my body to think. Since then I have experienced the studio in different ways, the art studio, the photographic studio the fashion studio and so on. It’s a place for experimentation. It’s also a place for people to create together, which is an integral part of my practice. Lenca refers to the indigenous people that lived in El Salvador prior to the Spanish colonisation of El Salvador.
Having to flee the El Salvador civil war in the 1980’s and subsequently living in the USA as part of the Latinx diaspora sounds incredibly challenging – you return creatively to El Salvador and draw inspiration from folk cultures for much of your work and particular Los Histiorantes to highlight important issues about colonialism and postcolonial trauma.
Yes. There is so much public discourse that constructs our identity as Salvadoran people. Especially in the US. I want to disrupt this with the work I do. I want to imagine a new collective future in which we free ourselves from the thought that Salvadoran people are only gang members and illegal immigrants. Were much more than that. I also tend to think about the effect that colonisation is having on Salvadoran people now. It’s a sort of postcolonial intergenerational trauma.
You came to photography and performance after a career in dance – how much has this beginning influenced your multi-disciplinary approach to your practice?
I didn’t feel comfortable identifying solely as a dancer. I didn’t feel comfortable working solely as a choreographer. I think my issue with these labels were that they came with parameters and conventions that I needed to adhere to. I quickly found myself working in multi-disciplinary ways as its more exciting and relevant to the issues I tackle. I’m interested in trying to be honest in my work and eliminating invention. Working as dancer taught me to trust my body and create work accordingly.
We often ask interviewee’s what is the best advice you’ve been given – but what is the best advice you could give anyone starting out in a creative career?
The best advice that was given to me was ‘ lean into the discomfort’ by a ballet teacher.
The best advice I can give is ‘ there are no rules’ .
News Articles you might be interested in:
OD Photo Prize 2022
OD Photo Prize 2022 After the success of last year, the OD Photo Prize returns for its second edition. This prize is an exciting open call for emerging artists working within the first ten years of their practice, founded...Find out more
Edgar Martins exhibition MNAC, Lisbon
‘There’s a shite stunk in the Air…Dad’s oot oan Bail!’ Edgar Martins Exhibition, MNAC, Lisbon This new exhibition by Martins is a comprehensive and original take on his award winning literary and artistic project What Photography and Incarceration have...Find out more
Spotlight: Samuel Ryde
We have been collaborating with visual artist Sam Ryde in the production of a new series of Limited Edition Giclée prints. It gave us time to find out more about his practice and in particular his use of social...Find out more
Spotlight: Source Magazine
Source magazine was established in 1992 as part of activities originally to support a community of photographers based in Northern Ireland that had been felt unrepresented. From these beginnings the magazine has developed in its ambition and reach. I...Find out more
Spotlight: Rick Findler
www.rickfindler.com As an independent photojournalist working in some of the most challenging situations, what first inspired you to pick up a camera to follow the path that you immersed yourself in? Whilst I was already taking pictures of landscapes...Find out more
Spotlight: Marc Wilson ‘A Wounded Landscape’
Can you tell us a bit about ‘A Wounded Landscape’ what prompted you to undertake the project and had you always determined that it would be long term commitment to the story? I have wanted – or perhaps without...Find out more
Spotlight: Ioanna Sakellaraki
We were first introduced to Ioanna’s practice as part of a Metro Imaging partnership with the Royal Photographic Society and have since followed her path through the RCA and onto a PhD at Kingston University. To coincide with an...Find out more
Spotlight: Hayleigh Longman
This year has been particularly challenging for us as a company and our commitment to mentorship and supporting the creative community has had to adapt to C-19 protocols. Though face to face and peer workshops have had to go...Find out more
Spotlight: Life Framer
For six years Life Framer has been shining the spotlight on emerging photographers. They have a truly international membership with a regular programme of competitions, culminating in annual exhibitions in several countries. They attract a quality cohort of judges...Find out more
Spotlight: Somewhere in Between
Somewhere in between is a collective of six artists who are all MA graduates from UAL Camberwell and their work crosses several imaging disciplines including printmaking; film and photography. They are a close knit group of like-minded people who...Find out more
Spotlight: Christiane Monarchi, Photomonitor
Founded by Christiane Monarchi, Photomonitor highlights lens-based artists at all levels of experience and practice, providing an important online perspective of their projects and vision. It is clear that the pandemic has isolated many and our ability to engage...Find out more
Spotlight: London Independent Photography
Founded in 1987, LIP is a not-for-profit photography members group that with over three hundred members, promotes free thinking and active collaboration. This week sees the launch of its annual exhibition and series of talks and lectures and due...Find out more