Look to the monsters around you to fuel your creativity.
The monsters can surround you or hide deep inside. They can be the height of the tallest mountain or the little bug that keeps buzzing by your ear, keeping you awake. The monsters can be in your closet at night on just in your head, the wild imagination that keeps you uncomfortable in the dark. At the end of the day, monsters are anywhere and everywhere, they are big and small, they are physical and metaphorical, but what you have to remember is that the monsters are around to keep you in constant fear, to halt you in your tracks, but they should never keep you from doing what you need to do.
I left Los Angeles on January 1, 2014. This was a fearful time, as it was a step away from comfort, but more importantly, it was a step towards a dream I should have been following long ago. Hell, comfort can be the worst monster out there, but that’s a tale for another page. I left Los Angeles to spend a year in my first hometown: Tucuman, Argentina. I left it all behind to spend a year doing what I love to do—write and photograph. It was during my 2014 that I was able to hone my skill, write my stories, photograph the beautiful places that I grew up around. I walked away from a life in Los Angeles towards uncertainty, towards unemployment and unrest. But I could not let myself forget, it was all for a creative life I wanted—my dream. If it wasn’t for conquering that fear, taking down that monster, I would have never experienced the time doing what I love.
On January 1, 2015, is when I rode off at the height of my triumph and took on a whole new beast. I flew back from Argentina towards a new city, one surrounded by monsters… the one-and-only, New York City. This city is surrounded by every kind of monster possible; from the people, who imagine themselves big and think they can step on their lesser, to the actually big, in the buildings that tower over the crowded streets. My first mission in New York City was to conquer the latter. And to conquer these beasts I armed myself with the only weapon I could afford at the time: a Canonet G-III QL17 35mm Rangefinder, circa 1975.
To take on a monster, you have to look it right in the eyes, accept that it is standing right in front of you, and then let the monster know that you are not afraid. And you have to learn to use these monsters around to fuel your creativity. New York City is colossal, it’s ever-changing, it’s demanding. The only way I could take it was by force, I couldn’t be slow, I couldn’t be cowardly—which most who have conquered this city would know. My method was to shoot the towering buildings that kept their shadows imposed on me. Day-after-day I would roam the different zones, the parks, the streets which I had yet to learn.
I can’t yet claim that I have conquered this city. That would be foolish and arrogant of me to say. But maybe these photographs show the wounds I have set upon the city, wounds that leave scars of myself on the back of the 13-mile-land, wounds that show that I am here to stay and that I am here to be a part of this monster—this monster that has allowed me to thrive and to grow as a photographer and as a New Yorker.
– Nahuel F.A.
This piece will be featured in the upcoming quarterly magazine R Culture. An art and culture magazine produced by Anthony Gaskins of PCP Media and myself. R Culture aims to open the possibilities for artists, writers, and other creative people to feature their work, while showings students how to take part in their culture, art, and social movements. I was lucky to have contributed for, designed, and edited the magazine along with Anthony.