Artist's Statement

Nathan Cordova

Small photographs measure 8”x10”. All others measure 16”x20”. All photographs are archival inkjet prints on matte paper

I started in 2017 by examining my relationship with my father, my primary model for masculinity, and I photographed my mother as cancer overtook her body. My father passed in 2015 and this project follows his trail through important historical sites in Colorado and New Mexico, along the rivers, mountains, arroyos and valleys and to towns and pueblos where our family has lived for over 400 years of recorded history. Simultaneously I photograph the contemporary markers of Spanish colonialism in my own home, the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as my living family members across the southwest.

My mother was white and my father was chicano and I use pictures to question the legacies of Spanish colonialism, Manifest Destiny and familial violence while bringing forth ancestor worship, oral storytelling and queerness. I chose to photograph in black and white to make visual false imperial dichotomies of good and evil, life and death, and examine the liminal and expansive emotional space between them. My complex identity exists in the confluence of conquest and erasure.

Every year that I work on One Man’s Body I produce a limited-edition art object from the work I made that year. 2017’s looked like a handmade zine, 2018’s looked like road maps and 2019’s resembled a family photo album. 2020’s pilgrimage to Colorado and New Mexico and resulting art object will be my fourth and final from the project. After this year, I will reconstitute all of the work from this project into a final form culminating in a limited-edition book and print exhibitions.