My name is Cibely and I was born in El Salvador. Among other things I am a photographer, and I have specialized in the documentation of intangible cultural heritage. I am also a product of multicultural migration, a process that has been a natural and recurring phenomenon throughout the course of human history.
My family heritage is made up of a mix of different parts of the world. My grandmother was born in Mexico to Spanish and Mexican indigenous parents. She married a Chinese merchant and together they traveled throughout the Americas and the world for over a decade. My mother is a product of this union. She identifies as Salvadoran, and she is part of a small but vibrant community of sino-latinos in El Salvador. My father was born in El Salvador, and his lineage can be traced back through Honduras to Spanish migration to Central America at the beginning of the 17th century.
Like attracts like, and as a result of a dynamic and multicultural background, my family and friends were made up initially of other immigrant families in El Salvador, and eventually, as my bubble expanded, from other parts of the world. I have continued the migration patterns present in my bloodlines, having had the opportunity to move to different countries, moving through different spheres and different cultural experiences without difficulty. It is part of who I am.
The opportunities to travel and migrate from country to country have allowed me to observe how people interact with each other in different cultures and contexts. Using a lens, I focused my work on the visual documentation of the invisible legacy passed through traditions, food, traditional dress and behavior that we know as intangible heritage. Over the years, I have appreciated how this observation of other cultures and people has allowed me to better understand my own story and my own roots. This realization has propelled me to find out more about my heritage and to research my family history, my most recent project.
My father had an advertising agency and was an amateur photographer. When I was 7 years old he gave me a very simple camera that I used to document my stuffed animals. Through him I absorbed the basics of photography, and in particular an appreciation for light. It was natural that photography would become my medium of choice to document and explore more of who I am and where I come from.
As I travel to different parts of the world with my family through work, photography gives me a sense of belonging because wherever we are I can submerge myself in different cultures through the lens to observe and admire the particular uniqueness of each culture. I have the sensitivity and the awareness to understand different situations and I look for both similarities and differences between cultures. I also keep an eye out for those who want to share their untold stories with the world.
Through photography I portray and give a voice to the stories silenced by history, to give proof of their existence and preserve them. Through this course of action I am able to help others and in doing so am able to follow the path of my ever-evolving identity.