Juan Madrid is a photographer currently based in the Hudson Valley, where he was also born and raised. He earned his BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. His first book, Waiting On The Dream, was published by VUU in 2014 and he has since self-published a variety of zines. His work is held in collections at Visual Studies Workshop and the Center for Photography at Woodstock. Juan works on both personal projects and editorially for clients including VICE, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Society Magazine (France).
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Daze
There's a certain way of looking at things slowly, where it creeps up on you that we're all just trying to stave off the insanity that boredom can cause. The Southern United States seems to be awash in a certain kind of living, one that accepts slowness, that doesn't shy away from taking your time with things. A stillness lingers here; the landscape, the objects, the people even, are awash in history, one that is full of brutality and yet the softness of humanity shines through if you care to look.
When and where did Daze begin?
This project began in Wilson, NC during an artist residency in January 2018. I didn't go in with any concrete concept and my main focus was to start making portraits again after having moved away from them for a while. This is an interesting body of work as I treated the residency like a job and just went out every day to make photos. Nothing particularly exciting happened while working on the project, but I did connect to a lot of people and my own process of making photos developed greatly. I also began to think about exploitation more, and how photographers should confront that issue head on, as it's something that photography can't escape.
Where do you see this project going?
As of now, I think this project is still in progress. I'd like to spend a little more time in Wilson and make some more portraits that get the people being photographed involved more. The work has been exhibited as a part of a group show in Wilson, but I'd like to exhibit it once it's more fully developed and I plan on producing a book of the work at some point.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
I try to keep in touch with other creatives (both photographers and other artists) and visit NYC when I get a chance. It can be difficult to stay motivated at times while in the Hudson Valley, as it's a beautiful place but also terribly isolating in more than one way. I make sure to always at least have a camera with me, even if I don't feel like making photos. I do try to get out for a hike every so often to clear my head and appreciate nature (and the quiet) and a long nap in the hammock always helps. Of course, I also look at a lot of photobooks and zines. Apart from that, reading and listening to music help keep me from focusing too much on photography and I've been really getting into watching films. I also like taking on odd jobs that aren't related to art; this past spring, I got to marshal a bike race for the first time and it was an experience that, while extremely banal, gave me a different kind of space to reflect on myself and the world.
What’s next for you?
I'll be spending a month in El Salvador in June and then traveling a little bit before heading back home to the Hudson Valley; after that, I'm eyeing a move to NYC. I'm also part of a collaborative book with Alejandro Cartagena, Carlos Loret de Mola, Freddy Martinez, and Fernando Gallegos titled Los Sumergidos that's coming out this year. There are also two books of my own work that I've got almost ready to publish. In 5 years, I see myself getting enough freelance work to sustain myself and getting hired to travel to photograph crazy stories.
What other artists should we be keeping an eye on?
Some artists who continually make work that inspires me in one way or another are Sasha Phyars-Burgess, Tenzing Dapka, Evan Ortiz, Nydia Blas, Ian Lewandowski, Elle Pérez, Juan Giraldo, Carlos Loret de Mola, Alejandro Cartagena, Trevor Clement, and Suzanna Zak.