Interview#32 Conrado Maleta’
How old are you?
Mmm…. I think I am exactly at the point where you don’t want to answer this question… hahahahha! I am 34, still young!.
Where are you from?
I was born in Cuba, in a city at east of the island: Santiago de Cuba. I was there for 25 years after that and thanks to the invitation of a museum in Spain, I moved to Europe for 5 years… later I changed to Israel for a couple of years and since a year ago I am living in New York… and I think this is my HOME, New York and not Cuba.
What kind of photographic equipment do you use?
I use different cameras according to the things I am going to do. For home done portraits and conceptual images I use a Hasselblad 500CM. If they are portraits then the film is fujifilm or portra but if it is still life I move to ektar. The camera I am using now for street 4x4” project is just a very simple small compact homy Canon, without any special info to add. Why? because it is small and I can put in my hands and no one will even notice that I have a camera, the I put automatically P[80-ISO] and that’s all, I don’t need to do to much just walk and be inside the situation I want preserve. I think to use a big camera for street works is not correct, not even decent. The idea of street is just to get the small private moment of human lives and stole them! If you use a big camera then you are acting like a voyeur. I use for sequential projects (Michals Duane style) a Pentax that my father in law bough on Japan in 1971. He feels happy because I am using it. That’s my equipment.
What do you do when you are not shooting?
Painting or doing table-sculptures. I can not stop. Or photography or paintings or doing my small mix media… or changing pampers! If I don’t have to much inspiration then I go to Craigslist and see if someone needs help and do a free non payment internship in whatever others need.
What was the first photograph you were proud of?
You are talking about 12 years ago… I must think…. give me a second… I think I felt really happy and proud with this image ( here). That was done in Madrid, Spain, like 4 years ago. My previous 8 years of work are ok, not WOW for me. I just loved this image and I still love it.
How much preparation is there behind your photographs?
It depends on what and where I will work. I can tell you that for a group of 12 images that are what I get “clean” from two rolls of negatives of medium format, for this quantity I usually need a week of preparation and another week for processing and another more for editing, sometimes even two weeks for editing. Then for each set of my work, I use to need a month. Usually, this is not a must, just a promedium.
Have you ever done sacrifices or compromises as a photographer?
Yes, specially about eating and paying my bills. If you really want to do what you love, then you will sacrifice something, and I am doing in it over the quality of life, until … I am not sure. If you have a family to feed, then even your love for arts can be in second level. For the readers that are born in first world, don’t worry about my words. It is a personal experience. I was born in a third world country, in a dictator’s kingdom. I come from the periphery of known world and this is a problem. I think this fact never helped me, just pushed me down until today. If you were born in a “good” country and you work hard and create mid or high quality works, you will be anyway covered for the good and safe circumstances of your homeland. The system is opened and protective. If you were born from the periphery… hummm, hard man, hard…. (If someone wish to talk longer about this ideas, please invite me to a coffee and we will talk).
What is your safe place?
My little home. Since ever for ever, always my home, and now inside my home my top safe place is the smile of my baby.
Do you have any obsessions?
Hahahahahahaha! Sure I have! Work, to work. It is so strong in me that because of that I change a lot of countries and homes, I even needed to destroy big part of my production. In fact. I don’t show in my blogs too much, actually nothing of all I am working on…
Is there an artist you’ll gladly collaborate with or that you regard with esteem?
There is one person in this planet that I think is the most amazing genius one mother had brought here and he is Joel-Peter Witkin. He is f**** great guys and every photographer must know how he is working ( I am not talking about what he is doing but HOW he is doing it). He is technically perfect. PERFECT, RADIANT, MAGNIFICENCE, SUPERBE.
▶ Do you define yourself as an artist, a photographer, both or neither?
I am a human being that feels and sees with the eyes of an artist. Photographer is just a way to, not a way of or a way on. Art is the first, equipment is secondary at all.
[If you want to see more, find him on conradomaleta.tumblr.com]