Born in Dominican Republic in 1952.
Now living and working in the Dominican Republic.
Carlos Garrido Castellano: How did you first become interested in photography?
Polibio Díaz: I wanted to study civil engineering at the University of Texas A & M, where I came across a course on photojournalism and enrolled. I wanted to try everything. That helped me a great deal. The classes also brought me into close contact with the history of photography up to today. I encountered the great masters of photography – the Europeans, the Americans, etc. Especially Muybridge; he was among the ones that made the greatest impression on me, because my photos have something cinematographic or in motion about them. As a Caribbean, however, black and white photograph held no interest for me.
C. G. C.: How did this stay in the United States influence you?
P. D.: It affected me in every way. First of all, I realized that I was not as white as my parents and Dominican society had made me believe. When I was in college, where I tried to be as white as possible, I suddenly discovered the slogan Black is beautiful. That marked me for life. I went in with my hair slicked down and came out with an Afro. I found out what it meant to be exotic. I also found my identity as a Caribbean; I accepted the idea that we are eccentric and light-hearted – hence the importance of color in my work.
C. G. C.: What terms would you use to define your work?
P.D.: To arrive at the universal, one has to start from the local, from one’s personal identity. It is like a natural process. Look at the work of contemporary artists that have had a major influence; they all use these same principles, whether or not the artist intends to do so. My work is social and I have always engaged in navel-gazing; there are fundamental problems here that are not being tackled, and they affect everyone, both inside and outside the Caribbean. I am very close to the Dominican working class in the sense that I consider it more authentic. Those on the inside are more original; they are more themselves, unlike Dominican high society, which is merely the product of what you see in European and American magazines.
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