Frost Art Museum FIU debuts Rafael Soldi photographs in solo exhibit on feelings about immigration and identity

Rafael Soldi, #103, #106, #139, and #141 from Imagined Futures, Gelatin silver print from Photobooth, Unique, 2″ x 1.5″, Courtesy of the artist.

Artist Rafael Soldi examines feelings of being rooted in one place or another but existing in the spaces in between with “Rafael Soldi: A body in transit.” The exhibition opens Aug. 20. at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU. In his first solo show at the museum, he explores how queerness and masculinity intersect with immigration, memory, and loss.

“Soldi’s photographs are at once powerful and intimate,” said Frost Art Museum Director Jordana Pomeroy. “They reflect deep retrospection by the artist, a process navigated by many, especially when one experiences displacement.”

The exhibition debuts at the Frost Art Museum and blends three interconnected series and includes new works – which combine image and text. Soldi’s works feature 19th century techniques of photogravure and contemporary photobooth. Each series offers deeply personal ruminations on identity while simultaneously presenting universal yet complex implications of fragility, struggle, and resilience.

The exhibit features standout pieces, including:

  • The 36 self-portraits that comprise “Imagined Futures” re-imagine the photobooth experience. Instead of making hyperbolic or silly poses for the camera, Soldi appears with his eyes closed. The photobooth evokes a Catholic confessional and offers a nuanced space for reflection, and ultimately a mechanism for bidding farewell to Soldi’s previous ideas about the future.
  • “Entre Hermanos” turns the camera toward queer, male-identifying Latino 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. The artist investigates how such seemingly playful activity can feel dangerous and menacing by some.

“I stem from a family of immigrants and my identity has always felt transient, as if built from a collective memory,” Soldi said. “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.”

The artist will give a tour of the exhibition on September 20 at 12 p.m.

About the artist
Rafael Soldi is a Peruvian­-born, Seattle-based artist and curator. He holds a BFA in photography and curatorial studies from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He has exhibited internationally at the Frye Art Museum, American University Museum, Griffin Museum of Photography, ClampArt, The Print Center, Museo MATE, Filter Space, and Burrard Arts Foundation, among others.

His work is in the permanent collections of the Tacoma Art Museum, Frye Art Museum, King County Public Art Collection, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Rafael’s work has been reviewed on ARTFORUM, The Seattle Times, The Boston Globe, Photograph Magazine, The Seen, Art Nexus, and PDN. He is the co-founder of the Strange Fire Collective, a project dedicated to highlighting work made by women, people of color, and queer and trans artists.

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