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    EXCLUSIVE

    El Barrio Chino.

    Aserica talked to French photographer Sean Alexander Geraghty about his captivating series on Cuba’s Chinese population.
    Photography by Sean Alexander Geraghty, Interview by Isa Prieto.

    IP: Where are you from? What place do you call home?

    SAG: I was born in Nice, France. I live in London but go back to Nice whenever I can. London and Nice is just the perfect combo! 

    IP:  When did you first pick up a camera? Did you study photography or are you self-taught?

    SAG: My mother is an interior design journalist, as a teenager I would often come with her on trips to assist photographers. I started messing around with cameras at around 16 I think . I have never studied but assisted a lot, for about 8 years.

    IP: I notice a strong theme of bright colour and eclectic patterns in many of your images. How would you consider your photographic style?

    SAG: I don't know if you could call it a style, but I’m definitely obsessed with funky interiors. I also love fake or staged images but with a natural feel to it, it creates a  weirdness that I like, so maybe my style is funky or weird.

    IP: Your series about Havana, Cuba’s Chinese community is fascinating! How did you find out about the story of this community?

    SAG: I came across the Chinese community in Havana by reading about it. I then did more research and felt I really had to go and find out more about it. So far it's been great, I’m still going back often to continue the project.

    IP: Are you often drawn to the genre of portraiture? Why?

    SAG: I love portraiture because it really gives you the opportunity to interact with people you probably wouldn't if it wasn't for photography. Portraiture can open doors to so many places and culture, it's unique, also probably the most difficult and stressful at occasion.

    IP: When traveling to El Barrio Chino, how did you find an ‘in’ to the community? What was your process of finding people to talk to and photograph?

    SAG: It wasn't easy at first... I worked with local students who helped a lot with the project. I also brought a printer with me so in the evening I was making little prints of the portraits to give back the next day, I think it did a lot. Most of the time an encounter would bring the next one, it was a bit of an adventure, someday I would do 5 portraits and some none.
     
    IP: The backgrounds of these images are filled with vivacious colours – however they never obscure the central stance of the subject. How did you choose spaces to position your subjects? 

    SAG: Most of the pictures are shot in interiors that relate to them, so either their house, workplace or sociedad (club). I spend quite some time moving things around, everything is very staged. I guess it's because I mainly shoot fashion where everything is controlled. To me, both the subject and their background are equally important.
     
    IP: Is there anything you discovered there, about their multiculturality and identity, that surprised you? Or that you would like to share?
     
    SAG: What surprised me the most is the fact that even though they claimed to be Chinese descendent, they are all very proud of being Cubans and consider themselves as such primarily. Therefore, it's not incompatible to claim a certain heritage and be patriotic. Some countries in the EU still struggle with this idea unfortunately .