In a third instalment (as it were) #itchysilk talks to another creative from Mexico, Chema Contreras. Like our past Mexican creatives, Edgar Campoy and Ilan Derech, Chema Contreras identifies Mexico as a powerful conduit for his creativity. Indeed it is his love for “chaotic Mexico” with its multi-layered culture, tradition and people, which continues to drive him. While Chema Contrearas is an architect by profession, he is evidently an artist first. In our interview with Chema we discuss, capturing images of the quietly booming Lgbtqi+ rave scene in Mexico, photography and the beauty of architecture.
How important is Mexico to you as a person and evidently to your creativity?
As a Mexican, I am profoundly proud of my roots. I feel this intense urge to explore Mexico and know my country intimately in terms of the land, tales, dialects, traditions and people. I believe our roots makes us who we are today. It’s elemental to our understanding. This philosophy (of sorts) fuels my wish to travel, to discover all the mystical places that are waiting for us. Not only in this physical realm but in every aspect of our body, soul and mind.
Talk about architecture as art.
The best answer I can give regarding architecture is it relates to how we live life. The colors, people around us, plants, animals, everything can be found and related in everything. Art is everything. So is life, so is architecture, so is economics. Everything has a unique feel of existing. Everything happens and that’s the magic and spirit of it. Architecture is within art and vice versa.
How does architecture impact the images you take?
I say there are two ways to answer this question. Part of me has that focus of an architect but then there is my fluidity as a soul, living that human experience. Ultimately I do think that my love of photography was somehow “meant to be”. I started with my mom’s camera in a parade here in Reforma and since then I have been self-taught. It’s that school of thought where you learn from your mistakes so you can become better.
What appeals to you personally and as an artist?
Life is continuous and moving, like everything in the universe. So as I was walking and learning about me, life, photography, the arts and what I want to do. Growing, I created what it was the vision of the world to me, around me, in this big chaotic moving city full of adventures and people. An abstract shape of what we as humans go through as an automatic reflex of what we are shown and taught.
We saw some images detailing a love of cannabis-talk to us about that.
Yes, I think it’s important to talk and demystify it because it’s a living being carrying a vibration as we do. It’s such a shame the negativity surrounding a natural plant. It was presented to me at a young age. I never hesitated or doubted, I wanted to try it. Since then it has been a normal and beautiful thing. I have experienced amazing things and perspectives and its part of what I am today. I have acquired knowledge that has led me to new, unexpected moments and it has led me new inner places.
One thing I like to add, is that it’s not made for everyone nor everyplace. It requires respect and knowledge. You do have to start somewhere but knowing where or why you are going. It’s all a matter of perspective and mindfulness.
Your project Pervert captures the underground rave scene in Mexico-the images are beautifully raw.
Those photos are from February 2020 here in an underground Lgbtqi+ rave / event called Pervert. It was the beginning of a long term project portraying that underground social rave scene here in Mexico City. As you might expect, it is a scene mired in elements of secrecy. This event was set in an abandoned women’s prison since but the event changes venues regularly. It was my first time there and was one hell of a night. Everyone who was there was a unique kind of human. Arrived around 10pm and we didn’t leave until 7am when the sun was going up-that’s the photo of the volcanoes El Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl (or La Mujer Dormida) in the background. It kind of summed up that whole night.
Can you tell us about any projects you are currently working on?
I have plenty of projects and ideas going on. I have been building and working on them since 2017 or so. Some in collaboration with people and some by myself. So yes, this unique opportunity fits in like a glove so that for the first time ever you can share my work.
Then I have also been working on my own brand Objjjekt. I never really knew what to do with the things I created so Objjjekt became that ‘place’. With the recent outcome of the NFTs and the Crypto-art medium (I’ve been into cryptos for a while now), I found a way of sharing and making use of my ideas and feelings.
It’s clear creating is part of your very fabric.
Absolutely. I have been branching out into other mediums too. I have upcoming magazines and books of my thoughts and feelings. Fanzines, sculptures, music and dj sets, as well as experimental shorts, some fashion stuff too, tattoo flashes over here and there and maybe some paintings. I’m learning about the graffiti medium too so that is exciting.
Will the creative world always be your vessel to communicate?
I am still, learning and getting to know my way around life. I still have many experiences to live and my prime hasn’t come. As long as I’m still here, I’ll be doing what my head and body allows me to do. Dedicating myself to the art of living, learning and growing. Making and living experiences through body, mind and soul. Abstracting and feeling the most I can. Experimenting new ways and techniques of expressing myself while keeping the foundation that I will always express through love.