“I think with photography you can create a whole fantasy around yourself, so when I design a set and develop a character for a picture, I try to create an entirely new reality for me and the people I’m portraying, hopefully, a reality that is better than the actual one,” explains México City-based photographer Andrés Mañon. With several commissions for the likes of i-D Mexico under his belt, Andrés’ work does exactly as he intends, building elaborate worlds full of over-saturated, yet altogether compelling characters.
Born and raised in the city, Andrés studied at Escuela Active de Fotografia and has been working as a photographer and make up artist for several years now. Having first been introduced to the medium during high school, it was the notion of fabricating alternate realities which initially drew him to photography – and Photoshop – in the first place. “What I like about Photoshop is the possibility of transforming a picture in so many different ways,” he tells It’s Nice That. This combined with “how immediate photography is”, is what fuels how he works. The result is images which strike a balance between fantasy and reality.
The characters and worlds included across Andrés’ portfolio are inspired creatively by queer and non-binary artists like FAKA and Ib Kamara but “outside the creative world I think all the eccentric characters that I get to know in México City on a daily basis are very inspiring,” he adds. Although a city whose creative scene is growing rapidly, he explains how “because of the political climate, the lack of resources and opportunities are a limitation for some artists that are part of the creative scene. That’s why it is so important to support each other because sometimes it’s the only thing we have.”
It’s through the people he chooses to document, and the way he documents them that Andrés manages to do this, particularly in regards to México City’s minorities and LGBTQ+ scene. Although a country with fairly progressive attitudes towards LGBTQ+ communities – it legalised same-sex marriage before and the US and the UK, for example – Mexico does still face problems. As recently as two years ago, the country saw protests against these marriage equality laws from its large Catholic and conservative population. Andrés’ work is therefore paramount in not only representing the country’s minorities but in making sure México City’s creative scene, as a whole, is made visible on a global scale.
By creating such ornate worlds, and placing those he finds inspiring inside them, Andrés visualises the world as he hopes it to be. His character express their queerness overtly, exploring their identity and gender within the colourful confines of each frame. While contenting to produce surreal and absorbing portraiture, Andrés is currently working on a project with his fiancée who has his own fashion brand called Marvin y Quetzal. The project is titled Hermosx, Andrés tells us, and will feature in a pop-up exhibition.
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