A brief chronicle of an immigrant
I write this as I enjoy my breakfast – an English breakfast tea and cheese on a toast which complement my extra spicy “rancheros” eggs. At home, the heating is on, simulating a Caribbean atmosphere, while outside the wind is blowing hard and the rain has not stopped falling for more than two days.
I am Rodrigo Moctezuma. Within HP I have two roles: I am the UK&I INK Category Manager and I am also the Chair of the UK&I Multicultural Impact Network (MIN). My cultural identity is also convergent based on my Mexican origins and on my British reality that for nine years has shaped my way of seeing the world.
When I first arrived in the UK, I lived in London. This is where peripeteias and challenges, as well as some frustrations and even melancholy, began. On the one hand, there was the absence of networking – being a stranger in every aspect of life is complicated. There were also the deep cultural differences: Imagine me, a Mexican with colourful clothes and a tireless smile, walking in "The City" where others typically wore dark suits while talking nonstop on their cell phones. That feeling of being a stranger. The singer Sting says it best in one of his songs "I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien, I'm an Englishman in NY." In my case, "I'm an alien, I'm a smiley alien, I'm a Mexican walking in London.”
For me, the most difficult part of immigrating was the communication and the language barrier. I remember one of my colleagues saying to me, "How are you going to handle the language handicap?" The first two years after arriving in the UK were a disaster. I couldn't tell what was more frustrating: the fact that I wasn't understanding the basic questions or the fact that I knew I had great ideas yet I couldn't articulate them in English.
In this stressful time, I learned that photography is my natural language. I had found refuge in it. Little by little my photographs generated a narrative nearly by themselves; that narrative allowed me to adjust my thoughts and encounter new themes of interest.
My first theme is Consciousness, and for me, it’s a form of therapy.
The second, Identity, relates to the fundamental questions of the self, but also stems from paternity. This topic helps me in supporting my son who faces his own cultural mix of Polish origins (with all its dark ghosts impacted by years of war) and Mexican roots (with apparent illuminating sun and contrasting chiaroscuro effects, as well as the burden of Aztec surrealism, from which even André Breton had to escape). This on top of his immediate British surroundings. Among many questions: What does it mean to be British today? How to create a new identity while maintaining the roots? And, how to achieve this without depriving yourself of family’s past?
The third theme, Memory, is approached from the perspective of a family memory and my life-long recording of the momentary passage of my life. The fourth theme, Togetherness, stems from my interest in how we make a community happen.
Following nine years in the UK, my current photographic project will aim to document a corporate human. I’m questioning the value of having dedicated over 40,000 hours of my life to the corporate world, while also searching for stories, feelings, and thoughts of a corporate human. All of the above with a purpose to create literature that includes images and written text.
Finally, last September I launched the project Portrait of HP. A project where we expose our humanity in all its significance. We are led by curiosity in search for our stories, to celebrate our diversity, and to foster equity and inclusion.