Juan Manuel Fernandez “Anaconda, 2021”


About the work:

Façade is a project that invites the viewer to see beyond the recognizable. The work uses architecture, the most universal illustration of form and structure, as a metaphor for isolation, rejection, and anxiety – methods of control. This project was born as a method to investigate the core concepts of a construct. I apply my own creative controls by restricting the lighting conditions, organizing the compositions, and editing out distractions. This process produces a group of austere images that speak to a foreboding sense of oppression. The familiar nature of place and space causes the viewer to accept the image as truth. However, when closely investigated, the images speak to complex ideas of authenticity and identity.

Anaconda, 2021 is a piece that has a real history. I am not particularly interested in the history of most of the buildings that are photographed for Façade. However, the history of Anaconda Wire and Cable Company was compelling. Typically, when I select a building, I am looking for an overlooked edifice. This allows for more areas of interpretations or access points for the viewer. There are very few things that are monumental about these buildings, which is ideal. If the structure is too identifiable, that in itself becomes a distraction from the symbolism that I am referencing. The erased history of African American workers migrating to Sycamore is the physical manifestation that Façade references when I remove and edit the image. Compositionally speaking, I looked for something that spoke about the design of the building, but also references Façade’s core concepts of isolation, rejection, and anxiety.


Juan Fernandez (b. 1980, Grand Rapids, MI) is an artist based in Elgin, IL. He has taught at numerous universities and community colleges in Illinois and Michigan. He currently serves as the Director of Art and Design for Elgin Community College. His work references the perceptions of form, structure, and order in common materials and subject matter. His photographs are in the collection of private collectors, Columbia College Chicago, the Rockford Art Museum, and in The Midwest Photographers Project at The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL. He has also been exhibited in numerous national and international shows including the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Rockford Art Museum, Boecker Contemporary in Heidelberg, Germany, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Newspace Center for Photography, the Griffin Museum of Photography, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Angelika Studios in Buckinghamshire, England, and The Houston Center for Photography. Visit the artist’s website.

32 x 40 in, 2021

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