Ricardo Zulueta Shoots People in Their Underwear

This current exhibit at the University of Miami's Wynwood Project Space is Ricardo Zulueta's "Domesticated Homosapiens in Traditional Costume Circa 21st Century." Basically, that means blown-up photos of people in their underwear. And these are the kind of people you don't usually see in magazines and maybe don't even want to. It's all part of Zulueta's dig at mainstream advertising. We spoke to the photographer about how he uses portraits to mock consumerism and the marketing of luxury goods.

New Times: What went into making this show?

Ricardo Zulueta: Well, I've been working on this project for about two years and basically I wanted to do a project about dealing with looking at people that are typically not found in mainstream advertising or marketing campaigns. I picked all different types of people from all walks of life, big, small, tall, all races, and basically dressed them up in some form of fashion accessory that excludes and marginalizes certain people. I'm kind of mocking consumerism and the whole luxury industry that's advertising these products as a way of achieving success.

How did you get the models?

Basically, I just approach people that I see wherever I am and tell them I'm an artist and I show them my book of the work I've done before. I invite them to the studio and most people get really into it and I give

them a print for posing. They're not naked. It's not about that at all.

Most people get it.

What else do you want to say about the work?

Well the other thing I should tell you is that every one of those photos I

consider a still from a performance. I direct the people in the

picture like I'm directing a film. My background is performance art and

photo and video. I shoot over 200 images and print a single still of the

performance and a lot of thought goes into it. In a way, it's like directing many little short films.

How did you get the show in Wynwood?

Basically there was curator from Spain who knew about my work and was here last year curating for CIFO and she met with me and saw the project and wanted to be involved. She wrote an essay about the series and her name Berta Sichel. She knew the gallery here and made the connection and we just went from there.

Are you from here? What made you leave and come back?

I wanted to experience living in different places. I went up to New York and went to NYU for a while and I was showing a lot and so I went with it. I was showing with galleries and museums. I've really been back and forth all the time. I've shown here before. I was a fellow of the National Foundation for the Advancement of The Arts and I did a public art project for Metro Dade Art in Public Places. I was

always in touch with showing here even when I wasn't living here. This is home for me so it's the best of both worlds. I've been back for like five years, my family is here and stuff so.

What kind of equipment do you use?

I use a backdrop and a digital camera and lighting. I use a high megapixel digital camera, not a large format, but it's a full frame digital camera.

What's next?

I'm gonna work on a series of portraits that blur the line between photojournalism and art.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jacob Katel
Contact: Jacob Katel