Rafael Soldi “a body in transit” The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum’s
In his practice, Rafael Soldi examines how queerness and masculinity intersect with immigration, memory, and loss. The artist writes, “I stem from a family of immigrants and my identity has always felt transient as if built from collective memory. I was aware of my queerness in an abstract sense from an early age, and this difference added another layer that I never felt empowered to assert. As is often for queer people, I felt my identity existed in a slightly different dimension than everyone else’s. Growing up in Perú, I knew that whatever society expected of me as a man, I was destined to disappoint.” Soldi’s photographs are at once powerful and intimate; they reflect deep retrospection by the artist, a process navigated by many, especially when one experiences displacement and feels neither rooted in one place nor another but exists in the spaces in between.
Soldi uses various methods to create works including the nineteenth-century technique of photogravure and the contemporary photobooth. This exhibition includes works from three interconnected series, Imagined Futures, Entre Hermanos, and Cargamontón. The thirty-six self-portraits that comprise Imagined Futures re-imagine the photo booth experience. Instead of making hyperbolic or silly poses for the camera, Soldi appears with his eyes closed. For the artist, the photobooth evokes a Catholic confessional and offers a nuanced space for reflection, and ultimately a mechanism for bidding farewell to his previous ideas about the future. Related to this series, Entre Hermanos, turns the camera toward queer male-identifying Latinx immigrants. The subjects, with their eyes closed, are sensitively portrayed as the portraits challenge traditional ideas of masculinity. Cargamontón mines vernacular video archives that mirror the artist’s experience in an all-boys Catholic school in Lima, Perú where horseplay was common and acceptance of difference was not always felt. Each series offers deeply personal ruminations on identity while simultaneously presenting universal yet complex implications of fragility, struggle, and resilience.
Born in Perú, Soldi lives and works in Seattle, Washington. This presentation marks the artist’s first solo exhibition at a museum. The Frost Art Museum FIU presents Rafael Soldi: A body in transit to complement FIU’s Common Reading Program and First Year Experience courses. This year, FIU’s entering class and other new students read App Kid: How a Child of Immigrants Grabbed a Piece of the American Dream by Michael Sayman.