zondag 27 november 2011

America: a journey through injustice Enrique Bostelmann Latin American Photobook Photography

The Latin American Photobook

Horacio Fernandez (Author)

A growing appreciation of the photobook has inspired a flood of new scholarship and connoisseurship of the form--few as surprising and inspiring as The Latin American Photobook, the culmination of a four-year, cross-continental research effort led by Horacio Fernandez, author of the seminal volume Fotografia Pública. Compiled with the input of a committee of researchers, scholars, and photographers, including Marcelo Brodsky, Iatã Cannabrava, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio and Martin ParrThe Latin American Photobook presents 150 volumes from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela. It begins with the 1920s and continues up to today, providing revelatory perspectives on the under-charted history of Latin American photography, and featuring work by great figures such as Claudia Andujar, Barbara Brändli, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Horacio Coppola, Paz Errázuriz, Graciela Iturbide, Sara Facio, Paolo Gasparini, Daniel González, Boris Kossoy, Sergio Larrain and many others. The book is divided into thematic sections such as "The City," "Conceptual Art and Photography" and "Photography and Literature," the latter a category uniquely important to Latin America. Fernandez's texts, exhaustively researched and richly illustrated, offer insight not only on each individual title and photographer, but on the multivalent social, political, and artistic histories of the region as well. This book is an unparalleled resource for those interested in Latin American photography or in discovering these heretofore unknown gems in the history of the photobook at large.

(BOSTELMANN, ENRIQUE). Bostelmann, Enrique. Preface by Carlos Fuentes. AMERICA: UN VIAJE A TRAVES DE LA INJUSTICIA. Mexico City, MEXICO: Siglo XXI Editores, S.A., 1970. First Edition. Oblong Small 4to. 1/4 Cloth Over Boards. Photography Monograph. No Jacket - As Issued. np (170pp), profusely illustrated in gravure. Text in Spanish. Designed by Marti Soler. Cover design by Leopoldo Lozano. 

In a protective clear acetate dustwrapper. "America: un viaje a través de la injusticia (America: a journey through injustice)" is Mexican photographer Enrique Bostelmann's gritty, socially conscious 1970 photo essay chronicling the primarily impoverished indigenous campesinos of Latin America. 

Issued in Mexico City in the wake of its Olympics and late sixties student and political upheaval, it has become widely viewed in recent years as one of the defining photographically illustrated "protest books" of that decade of unrest. Its preface is in the form of a five page holographic reproduction of an original contribution by noted Mexican literary titan Carlos Fuentes. 

(page 110 of Martin Parr and Gerry Badger's "The Photobook: A History Volume II" and pages 106-107 of Horacio Fernandez' "The Latin American Photobook")

 “México” A Century of Indigenous Photography

Foreign photographers start arriving to Mexico from the mid nineteen century, period during which the European capitalism expanded throughout the world. The first photographers were influenced by the spirit of the times, exploring, conquering, and adventure. Their images capture the exoticism, the unknown, that which attracts the attention of metropolitan societies.

The end of the century sees the arrival of photographers influenced by anti-colonialism currents, who also follow a romantic stream, finding in Mexico a “virginal” landscape which is beginning to be destroyed in Western Europe, but those who have an anthropological view try to interpret the indigenous reality by preserving the image of social groups threateded by colonialism and industrial expansion.

Mexican photographers take the stand of the politician in power, Porfirio Díaz, towards the natives: the regime saw itself as a Westernized Mexico in which the Indian had no place. That is why they picture the Indians in bourgeois sceneries, isolated from their natural entourage in time and space. It is not the image of an instant, but the posed image of a period.

The Revolution in Mexico marks the onset of the XX Century: a thousand-times time, thousand-faced country. It is a time for search and definition, for attaining a single national entity.

Social movement extols an intransigent nationalism; some revolutionary groups oppose the value of the native cultures to what is foreign.

This transitional period is reflected in the art work, in the way of making photography. Revolution and its participants turn into the object being documented in photographs, visual witness of the outcome of the new face of Mexico

By breaking the ancient social order, photography estranges itself from the prototype of images established by the romantic pictorial art of the XIX Century and starts to develop as an independent art.

The technological advance in photography finally permits the capture of the instant. The native is now the belligerent actor of armed fight around him, or poses for the lens of those hunting for the face of Mexico.

Trenches have been left behind, and so is the rumor of war. The varied image of Mexico now persists. This is the moment for the appearance of the creativity period (1920-1940) in search of the Mexican soul. The native past is recovered as a pristine symbol of nationality; artists represent the redeemed Indian, but condemn the living Indian to acculturation.

The Indian soul of Mexico attracts photographers who turn their backs to the modern spirit of the country, devoting themselves to develop the uniqueness of photography as a means of aesthetic expression. By using this legacy of a new task for photographers, the Mexicans create new modalities, searching the essence of the nation by looking inside the country trying to define themselves; they crate a new visual memory of indigenous times, denouncing the misery and injustice in which communities live.

Commercial photography also expands, wrapped in the paternalism that turns what is substantial into folklore, offering Mexico’s soul in faces, bodies and costumes, but remaining on the surface alone.

This period comprises the years of growth, the years of the Mexican miracle, in which similarities and historical co-existing aspects are recognized: Mexico can structure a utopia and be everything: Indian, half-breed and western, without focusing on fatality.

But it is also the decade of the sixties and the rupture of a complaisant vision: these are years of consciousness, questioning and a search for transformation. An image is no longer looked for: the pretense is to liberate oneself from it.

Photography is then taken as a path for social knowledge, a solidarity and denouncing weapon. And in this atmosphere the space is given for an artist’s very personal expression.
And thus facing the Indian Mexico, the multiple hues reflected by the lens do not turn the Indian into an object to be symbolically possessed as another collectible, but quite the opposite, the pretense is to share with him the construction of its own space and his own image.

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