Photographing Identity: The Syncretic Tradition in Contemporary Latin American Photography

Although Manuel Alvarez Bravo's surreal photographs are among some of the most celebrated works by a Latin American photographer, the field of Latin American photography in general encompasses a much wider spectrum. The history of Latin American photography begins in the 1840s and spans the large regions of Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. The diversity of these artistically rich and culturally complex regions, with a history that goes back to Pre-Columbian times, offers artists a wide variety of sources to draw from.

It would be limiting to speak about a Latin American identity and/or discuss paradigms within its photographic art even though the work may share certain themes related to socio-political and historical issues. On a stylistic level, the traditional practice of the medium has been straight black-and-white photography and photojournalism and shows a general preoccupation with humanistic values. However, the non-traditional approaches of modernists such as Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, and Manuel Alvarez Bravo, who were active in Mexico during the 1920s and '30s, set the stage for younger generations to experiment with the medium. Their efforts still inspire contemporary photographers to push the limits of photography even further. Formal and aesthetic aspects aside, contemporary Latin American photographers are creating work that reflects the complexity of their national and cultural heritage. Yet contemporary Latin American photography varies widely and its many styles range from photo documentary and reportage to magical realism and conceptual art.

Latin American photography still remains a largely unexplored field, however it is gaining exposure on the international art scene due to the recent exhibitions and publications featuring Latin American photography which are creating an increased interest in this area.

The exhibition, "Photographing Identity: The Syncretic Tradition in Contemporary Latin American Photography" features work by Juan Carlos Alom (Cuban), Albert Chong (Jamaica), Flor Garduño (Mexico), Marta Maria Perez Bravo (Cuba), and Javier Silva Meinel (Peru).

The images in this show address issues related to the syncretic cultures of their countries of origin which have a strong indigenous presence. Each photographer explores the complexities inherent in countries marked by pre-Columbian, colonial, and post-colonial values. Drawing inspiration from Afro-Caribbean rituals or pre-Colulmbian symbolism, these photographers convey a cultural quest imbued simultaneously with rich spirituality, beguiling aesthetic vision and documentary immediacy .

Yona Bäcker Director, Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc.


| CHONG 1/2 | GARDUNO 1/2 | ALOM 1/2 | MEINEL 1/2 | BRAVO 1/2 |