Artist Statement

Polibio Díaz:



I was 13 years old when I travelled to New York for the first time. While visiting Queens with my cousin we pass by Jamaica Avenue and he told me: From this avenue up live white people, from this avenue down live blacks.


For me, who grew up as a "white boy" in my home town Barahona, Dominican Republic, this information was a shock and from that day on I was faced with a series of questions that I had never dealt with before and witch I'm still dealing today. When I returned to my country everything had changed. I began to closely observe the hair, the skin colour of my father, mother, cousins, friends, of all Dominicans. I realized that we were all of mixed colour, and that either we ignored it, as in my case, or we did not want to recognize it.

My father was an elegant mulatto man who never got a suntan to avoid looking like a black man. Ironically he died of skin cancer, and my mother is a white woman with blue eyes, so from that day on Jamaica Ave. I felt not as white as to live on the upper side of Jamaica Avenue, neither as black as to live downside.

No one can leave his house without looking at himself in the mirror and recognizing who he or she really is, finding whatever is beautiful in him or her. There originated the leit motif of my artistic work.

We Dominicans consider ourselves as whites and only consider blacks the Haitians. It should be remembered that our independence struggle was from Haiti, not from Spain. I utilize my camera and my performances as the basis for an artistic statement geared toward Dominicans, so we can see ourselves as we are.

How have I coped with this cultural challenge?

By making blackness and mulattoeness the basis of my work, challenging the aesthetic Greco-Latin codes on which we pretend to base the concept of Dominican beauty.

I give an example: The Dominican Catholic Cathedral is the first one in the Americas and a symbol of Hispanic Heritage, of universal colonization. I photographed the reflection of the Cathedral thru a glass window of an old cinema, that was facing the Cathedral, plus the reflection of a mulattoe woman, street vendors, automobiles and the street electric wires all in one shot, therefore "desacralizing" or subverting the sacred symbolism of the Cathedral and its association with the white component of our society, this series I named it Catedral Santa María de la Encarnación 6 a m – 6 p m,


Catedral Santa María de la Encarnación 6 AM - 6 PM”.1980

Currently I have undressed the black Dominican man in the middle of the street. From there I have intruded into their homes with or without their occupants, in a photographic series called Interiores. 

How have I developed this photo sequence?

By seducing the subjects and convincing them to allow me into their intimacy. I enter their homes; take a sequence of photos, them I assemble the puzzle with tree to six photos, as a result, a get another picture, which look like one. . I scan this new picture and enlarge it in a big format which is the final result that I show to the public.

In my work I create an analogy between the "First" and "Third" worlds, between black and white.


 Exposition KREYOL FACTORY - Grande halle Villette © William Beaucardet

With my performances I develop my concepts from the understanding that if a white (foreigner) man arrives and decides to build an artificial island facing our sea walk in the colonial part of Santo Domingo, we behave as the natives and their amazement (Guacanagarix's syndrome)when they saw for the first time the white man.

In my video-performance-installation: The Treasure Island chosen by the Cuban Art Biennial of this year, my approach was direct, frontal, without mediations, because art is a language that communicates what the artist wants to say about the scope of his vision. My art is oriented first to my Dominican compatriots, so we recognize and accept ourselves as we are: the wonderful complex mixture of several civilizations with their shades of colour reflected in the complexity of our skin and culture.

Translated by Chiqui Vicioso



Fotografía © Patricia Pou