Observer First

It started in Brazil, as I watched my sister dance salsa. There were no traces of Portuguese; just pure eye-contact, body cues, and a different type of connection between Astrid and the Carioca. I wish someone would have taken my picture in that moment, 6 years ago, when I was captivated by the communication between them.

Even though I like to think that my interest of those on the sidelines stems from my participation in dance,—in this case, the Phoenix Social Dance Scene— it is not accurate. It goes further back, to Brazil, when I was the outsider of this subculture, a newbie and a bystander. It doesn’t mean that those who watch are automatically new to dance. This was my experience, and a vivid memory I’ve yet to forget because it is the plot twist in my story that led me down this path of exploration.  

In a setting where so much constantly unfolds, I like to focus on the gaze of the observer, always looking far away, but at something specific; we can follow their eyes past the parameters of the frame and create our own narrative as we ask,

“what is he or she seeing?”

In this project, my goal is to emphasize the role of the observer and lead the viewer past the movements and faces, to a specific gaze.

Carla Celaya

About Carla Celaya

Carla León Celaya was born in Phoenix, Arizona but she was raised in Mexico. Her undergrad is in Journalism, and she is currently pursuing an M.A. in Spanish Literature. Carla is working on a methodology where she can integrate visual arts within her critical literary analysis to showcase a more complete message.