ArtCrush: Daniel Arzola

A creative approach to activism.

ArtCrush: Daniel Arzola

Originally from Venezuela, Daniel Arzola is now based in the US.

I caught up with him for the Naked Men Talking podcast.

In the conversation, we talk machismo in Venezuela, finding refuge in art, and the vibe of being a naked DJ at a naked party.

Listen here

"The art of others was a refuge for me in very lonely moments..." says Arzola, reflecting on struggling with his sexuality while growing up in Venezuela. "People like Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, Reinaldo Arenas, Chavela Vargas, Keith Haring, Tori Amos. They showed me the beauty after the darkness. I think it is essential to find the beauty that hides in our own stories."

"My work speaks of the value of the dignity of each person because the extraordinarily homophobic society in Venezuela systematically attacked my dignity."

"It freed me as a human being..." says Arzola, reflecting on how leaving Venezuela has changed him. "The first time I could walk down the street hand in hand with a lover was outside my country, and the first time I was able to say goodbye with a kiss instead of a handshake because visibility comes at a price that can cost you your life in my country. I think that when the artist changes, the art also transforms."

Arzola's work proudly celebrates queerness and often directly conveys political messages. It's an approach that he refers to as Artivism - art plus activism.

"My work is personal because the personal is political when your civil rights and dignity are at stake..." explains Arzola.

My work will be my testament when I am not here. It is the work of someone who believes that art is a large part of human knowledge and its ability to tell stories.

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