Par Laetitia Allal
Who is Victor Cobo, could you introduce yourself? Tell us a little about you, your background.
I was born in Melbourne Florida, in 1971. My mother is from Madrid, Spain and my real father is from Kentucky. They met in Spain where I was conceived in the late 60‘s and then they divorced in Guam when I was 4 years old. My father was a heroin addict that had odd jobs working for NASA, the space program. My Mother and stepfather and I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area when I was 5, in the year 1976.
When, how and why you became a photographer...?
My father traveled around doing these odd jobs. The only time I would ever go and see him would be in the summertime when I had school break. He moved around a lot though. One summer he would be in Bermuda, then a few years later he would be in New Mexico. When we were together, he was always taking pictures of us. It was his obsession to document this false relationship we had. In each of his apartments he had, he would put on his walls hundreds of photographs of us together. I think he felt it was his obligation as a father. Through his obsession creating this false world with images, I began to appreciate photography. I think I started to understand at an early age what it could mean psychologically for someone.
What photographers/artists/directors… have been the greatest influences for you?
I appreciate creative minds that can put me in their own world, however dark that universe may be. Directors like Lars Von Trien, Gaspar Noé and David Lynch. Painters like Francis Bacon, Goya and Lucian Freud. Musicians that are rebels like Bowie, Cash, Piaf, Harvey,Tom Waits or Nick Cave etc. Artists with a vision that aren’t concerened so much about commercial success as they are about artistic merit.
What is your art theory?
Follow your heart. Photography a lifestyle, not a career.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
Music is a huge one. It can take me away and give me that desire to continue to create. It can place me in that subconscious dream world that is necessary in order for the ideas to come.
World of sex seem an essential part of your work (« Remenber when you love me », « The spectre of theatre » « Flaneur »). Why?
What doesn’t revolve around sex? The world is sexual. Kids are sexual. Advertising is sexual. As animals we are driven by sex. It’s a huge part of the human mind’s subconscious desires.
We have the feeling that you want to be in the gap. The gap between love and desire, beauty and horror, heaven and paradise. What do you want to reveal? What's the message of your works?
I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to this. If I did I probably wouldn’t be creating these images. That is what keeps me going, it’s the mystery of it all. This is all so relative and subjective. I know this sounds silly, but is my take on all this really that relevant? When I’m dead, my interpretation of all this is meaningless. It’s up to the viewer to determine what they think the message is. What they want to see in the pictures. We could analize this until the end of time. True, it’s interesting to draw conclusions from my past, but I think there are things that are better left unexplainable. Let mystery reign.
Your work,«American dreams», is very different from the other works. Could you explain the story? You talked about Mexicans, as well. Where does you interest for them come from?
It’s the same concept. Human beings in turmoil. It’s a bit more journalistic and less self-obsessed and theatrical, but the same basic priciple is there. The idea of moments of nirvana mixing with moments that appear apocolyptic. I did a photojournalism internship at a daily newspaper in Santa Fe, New Mexico, back in 2001. The culture is very Mexican there. My mother and my stepfather are both European immigrants themselves who came here in the early 70’s to start a new life, to fulfill a dream. I can relate to those coming from Mexico or other parts of the Americas to make the U.S. their home. In my opinion, if one doesn’t take the chance to follow their hearts and their dreams, what’s the point of living? No passion their as far as I’m concerned.
There is something really sad in your work. Solitude is always here, we have the feeling that you want to express some intimate pain even in joy. How do you define the word solitude?
I see where you are heading with this, but again this is relative. As humans we all have the feeling of solitute. At times we are lonely. For some people solitude is a direct link to depression. They try to counter-attack it with vices to obtain a momentary state of bliss. Maybe drugs, alcohol, etc. I’m not speaking for all artists when I say this, but isolation can also be an amazing gift. It’s a time to reflect and a time to think about life, and for someone like myself, it’s impearative for the creative process. This is where the ideas come from. I don’t have a car. I walk everywhere, but it gives me time to think. I love this!
It’s very stange, some of your pictures, even when shot in the real world, make feel that they come from a filmic sequence. Is it a will?
I approach photography very much like a film director. I look for characters who’s faces have history. I put a lot of effort into sequencing pictures. I think editing is just as important as the act of creating the image. Some images I just quickly grab when I am out, yet others require much more time and imagination to conceive. When an idea is taken and I can actually create a tangible image out of it, to me this is so beautiful. It’s the most amazing thing there is!
You always define your work as between dreams and memories. Could you explain it?
There is a world between the two. It’s a state of subconsciousness. However people obtain it is their business, but I think it’s desired by many. I find it fascinating. For instance, haven’t you ever heard someone say, “I can’t remember if it actually happened, or it was a dream.”