Daniel Harel was born in Spain and moved to the Dominican Republic when he was sixteen. After twenty years there working both as a commercial photographer and IT consultant, he moved to New York City to pursue more artistic endeavors and completed the New Media Narratives certificate at the International Center of Photography. During the pandemic, he started producing self-portraits at home, a new area of exploration for him, and produced a body of work around pandemic stories which has been featured in magazines and exhibited in galleries. For his latest solo show, he incorporated objects built with LEGO and a 3D virtual experience allowing the user to enter his home studio. After discovering the power of displaying himself in his own work, he is focusing his next self-portrait project on climate change with the goal of raising awareness.
Thinking inside the box
My coming to New York City was supposed to be the start of a steep climb in the world of photography and art. While I expected to gain an education and access to networking opportunities that I never had in the Dominican Republic, I instead received something quite different and unexpected.
Stuck in my apartment due to COVID-19, every aspect of my life, from the tiniest little domestic chore to the most important call, has posed logistical problems. Like many around the world, I have had to make do with what I had while adapting to a new reality. All the while, planning for an interrupted future that has suddenly been replaced by endless challenges.
I started these self-portraits to keep creative during the pandemic, and sort of as self-therapy. Very quickly I started realizing that I was telling the stories of my friends and family all over the world, as no matter where you lived, you were going through similar experiences. Funny and casual at first, these photos are filled with details and emotions, and incredible back stories.
These photos helped me connect with people all over the world while I was sharing them on social networks, it let me feel less isolated and part of a community. I started receiving stories and occurrences, all of them lined up with the photos I was producing. The pandemic has been the single longest and most documented event in recent history, with a constant bombardment of negative imagery by the media and by taking an opposite direction from the content I was being fed, this work helped me and others to get through these times.
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