Tag Archives: Latin American

Latin America Week: Matías Sauter

This week, Argentinean photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…

Y ahora sí, el último fotógrafo de esta serie Latinoamericana… Espero que la hayan disfrutado tanto como yo!

I knew about Matías Sauter  through a friend of mine. Matías works as a fashion and commercial photographer, so he is used to posing models and constructing scenes, but when I saw his Kids series, I was immediately smitten. These images are very spontaneous, full of color and the light is beautiful… however, there’s a lot of sadness in them, which is not something that we encounter very often in photographs of children.

He was born in San José, Costa Rica and currently divides his time between his native country and Germany. He has been exhibited at several venues in Costa Rica and has assisted in two research projects on Latin America, commissioned by the Museé de Quai Branly in Paris, France.

Image from Kids

What does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

I grew up in Costa Rica, but I’ve always been influenced by German culture as my family of German origin and I went to a German school. This mix of cultures has opened the opportunity to use different angles in the way I see my daily life. I think my Latin side has given my photography the fun aspect, so it makes my images more colorful and contrasty. Living in Costa Rica also has an influence on my photography: I’m surrounded by a beautiful landscape, nature, rain, the smell of coffee in the afternoons and the ocean that bring out a lot of feelings in me… nostalgia and quietness to name a few. There are a lot of images that I carry with me where I go and, I find a way to find similarities in other contexts and people. I am not sure how they are reflected on my work, but it is defined by them a hundred percent. I will never stop thinking about the yellow light that turns on when a tropical storm hits, a very common image that froze time and it still does and I enjoy it immensely… it’s like being trapped in a photograph. 

Do you see a difference between work created in Latin America and work created in the States?

When I see photographs made by Latin American artists I usually smile because I see a lot of surrealism and humor. There is always something magical in them. I actually think they have a lot of magical realism we find in literature, sometimes full of exaggerations and funny situations. On the other hand, I also notice that there is a certain degree of nostalgia in Latin American photography. May be it is because we are always searching for solid roots, and we are such a fusion of cultures and blood that it is difficult to find an identity. 

What is the state of photography in your country–is it well supported, are galleries selling, do photographers have an outlet to show their work?

There are a few contemporary galleries here, such as DesPacio, Jacobo Karpio and Klaus Steinmetz, which are known internationally and they also showcase the wok of well established photographers, like Jaime Tischler or Cinthya Soto. I am not represented by a gallery right now, so I am not very familiarized with the current situation.  

 Images from Kids
it a fact that all children go through a similar phase where they all
smile and laugh constantly? Do photo albums truly reveal the feelings
and behavior that will define the personality of children.
is a photo essay that aims at revealing what we would call a
“psychological portrait” of a child, in which we try to show both
the kid’s personality traits as well as the external factors that
condition them. I tried to reflect on the child’s identity and bring
out the consciousness the child possesses, from this very early age,
in relation to others.

that reason, kids were given the opportunity to actively participate
in the creation of their portrait, so they decided where to be
photographed and which toys or objects they wanted to have.

intention was to explore their understanding of the world and their
personality traits that get them closer to the “conflicts” of
adulthood. Besides expressing those feelings, which adults refuse to
accept about children, and that they reveal how their lives will
shape up in the future, they evidence a “dissociation” with the
idealized and perfect image that many adults have about childhood.

Latin America Week: Guillermo Srodek-Hart

This week, Argentinean photographer Eleonora Ronconi is taking over as guest curator, featuring work created by Latin American photographers…

Guillermo es el quinto fotógrafo de la semana, y ya sólo queda uno…

Guillermo Srodek-Hart is an Argentinean photographer, who grew up and lives in Buenos Aires. His series Stories is about old stores that are located in rural areas. Nostalgia runs very strongly in the Latin DNA, and I think his series is a perfect example of this. Every time I look at these images, I remember what these places smell like and how people dressed at the time even though they are not present in these photographs. They transport me to a different place and time… 
Guillermo has an MFA from Mass College of Art in Boston, MA. He has been exhibited in many venues around the world, and his work has been published by O Globo, Fotografia Argentina, Boston Globe and Art Matters Magazine and several Argentinean newspapers. He is part of several collections such as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Attleboro Museum of Art and Fundación Petrobras. In the United States he is represented by Dina Mitrani Gallery in Miami, Schneider Gallery in Chicago and Gallery Kayafas in Boston.

Image from Stories
does your Latin heritage bring to your work?

discovered my Latin heritage while living in Boston as un undergrad
at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. The questions about my
origin and my identity came when I was far from them. But I don’t see
myself Latin in the way I photograph. On the contrary, I feel closer
to FSA photographers. If I were living in some other place I would
probably be drawn to the same subject matter. 

you see a difference between work created in Latin America and work
created in the States?

am not sure, because there is so much information coming and going
all the time that the influences cross over constantly. But I do see
that there is less of an academic influence here than in the US.
Here, still, people who want to learn photography have to figure out a way
to make it work for them, as opposed to the huge structure that the
Art Schools offer to a student in the US, where it is a safer environment (while you are enrolled). After graduation, it is a whole
different story. I think there is a lot of regurgitation going on in
the US Art Schools but I also think this is inevitable.  

is the state of photography in your country–is it well supported,
are galleries selling, do Photographers have an outlet to show their

is a lot of interest in the medium, and there are great venues to
exhibit. There are also excellent teachers and very talented young
and not so young photographers. But I think the market is not very
good here. People will fill up a gallery at the opening, then
throughout the month it will be very visited, but perhaps there are
no sales. And now the dollar is crazy here so I dont know what will
happen. A lot of collectors from abroad come here to buy cheap and
good work.

Images from Stories

drive to the small rural towns in the Argentine countryside to get
away from what I know. For me, being uncomfortable stimulates
creativity. When I enter unknown territory, I stop, get out, and talk
to people. I tell them I am interested in old stores, places that
still function almost in a separate time, those that remain
authentic, running on their own agendas.
want to find places that remain authentic, that are running on their
own agendas. Sometimes I think I am photographing the last rebel’s
strongholds, or artists’ studios, because these places seem to
operate by a different set of rules.  When I run out of words, I
take my folder out and show prints of previous shots I’ve taken, like
a detective sharing evidence. 
am looking for places like these
I ask while flipping through the photographs.  My project takes
on a collaborative nature because I rely on these interactions, the
people I meet point me to new locations, and that’s how I build my
Many times
I am asked ‘Why aren’t there any people in your photographs?’ 
My answer
is ‘Look closely, they are all over the place.’
photographs are filled with traces of human presence: objects,
furniture, stuff hanging from the walls, accumulations on display.
They speak to me of the invisible, that which can’t be seen but is
there, stories to be imagined, and, ultimately, the acknowledgement
of our own transience in this world.

Review Santa Fe: Santiago Vanegas

Over the next month, I will be sharing the work of photographers who attended Review Santa Fe in June.  Review Santa Fe is the only juried review in the United States and invites 100 photographers to Santa Fe for a long weekend of reviews, insights, and connections.  

Santiago Vanegas has navigated in and out of two cultures throughout his life, bringing a unique perspective to his photographs. Born in Philadelphia and then moving back and forth between the United States and his native country of Colombia, eventually staying in Colombia for the next 14 years. Inspired by his mother, a painter, Surrealist art, Latin American magic realism, music, and the world of cinema, Santiago creates work that looks at the dark and the light in life. “I see the world in a way that even to me is a bit strange, but very real. The world is a strange, complicated, and fascinating place. I’m constantly drawing metaphors of how I see the world and its future. My images are about the relationship between reality and perception.”
His work has been featured in Surface Magazine, WIRED, Flaunt Magazine, Picture Magazine, GRAPHIC Magazine UK, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, 
Santiago has created a wonderful bookend to his previous publication, Antarctica, with a new offering, Iceland,  A project that captures the stunning landscape of an under-explored country.

ICELAND: Ice. Land. Fire. Motion.
Metamorphic. Technological. Volatile. Outlandish. Lush. Oceanic.
Mythical. Alive. Thinking of Iceland, I’m lost for words and the ability
to think in complete sentences. One of the few places in the world I
have visited that undeniably has a powerful pulse of its very own. The
land breathes and evolves right before my eyes. The land is an organism
in itself. Temperamental volcanoes, mighty glaciers, the rhythm of the
ocean. It’s a language of time.

To a degree, Icelandics know. Their respect for the land isn’t political, or left only to environmentalists and celebrities. Many are aware of nature’s fragility and power. It’s power to create, destroy, transform, and transcend. This is a time when humanity has the choice to be enlightened, or disciplined by nature. Although part of me thinks nature has already made up its mind.

apertureWEEK: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.

›› Vice‘s Motherboard blog released the never-before-told story of the first photograph ever uploaded to the World Wide Web, which celebrates its 20th anniversary next Wednesday.  The image, which has been referred to as “a Photoshop disaster,” has been met with equal parts adoration and horror since its release. The story also appeared on Gallerist NY and ABC News’ Tech This Out, which digs a bit deeper into the naïve roots of the image.

›› PIX, a proposed “photography lifestyle magazine for women,” has drawn commentary from photo editors Stella Kramer and Jasmine DeFoore and Jezebel blogger Katie J.M. Baker for its fluffy content—stories like “Smudge-proof makeup tips for long days behind the camera”—directed towards young female photographers.

›› Two years ago, Scott Blake, the digital artist behind the “Chuck Close Filter” website, was confronted by Close himself for what the painter believed to be unfair use of his copyrighted artwork. Blake recently recounted his dormant dispute with Close in an online essay, raising questions about when art is derivative, when it is plagiaristic, and if it’s possible for it to ever be entirely original. Wired reported, bloggers weighed in.

›› Les Rencontres d’Arles was in full swing last week. As The Guardian reported, Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood took home the festival’s author book award, the second year in a row that a Mack-published photobook has won the award—Taryn Simon’s A Living Man Declared Dead…was the 2011 winner. Jonathan Torgovnik won the €25,000 Discovery prize for Intended Consequences, and The Latin American Photobook was awarded the festival’s historical book prize. Additionally, Magnum celebrated its 65th anniversary at the festival, announced nominees Zoe Strauss, Jerome Sessini and Bieke Depoorter, and considered what the future holds for the organization.

›› Yoda reviewed photobooks a couple of weeks ago on Blake Andrews’ blog. We can’t believe we missed it. Work by Vivian Maier, Duane Michals, Rinko KawauchiAlec Soth and John Gossage, and The PhotoBook Review were amongst the titles critiqued by the Jedi Master. On the Gossage/Soth collaboration The Auckland Project: “Tack this poster to their dorm room I’m guessing few collectors shall. In protective cover will it remain. Hmm. Yeesss.”

›› The Rolling Stones celebrate their 50th anniversary this week and Magnum has reached into the archives, posting on their Facebook page a vintage Guy Le Querrec image of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at a show in 1967. Over at The New Yorker, Photo Booth has launched an 11-image slideshow of photos from the band’s early years, including a birds-eye shot of fans mobbing the band’s vehicle after a press conference at the Hilton, NYC in 1965.

›› More in anniversary news…In celebration of  the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s first solo exhibition, at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is planning Regarding Warhol: Fifty Artists, Fifty Years, which opens in September and will also feature works by photographers Cindy Sherman and Robert Mapplethorpe. Over at NokiaConnects Joel Willians recounts the 5 Strangest Habits of Andy Warhol, asking the age-old question, “Eccentricity and genius go hand in hand, right?”

The Latin American Photobook, Jonathan Torgovnik’s Intended Consequences Win Les Rencontres d’Arles Awards

The Latin American Photobook, edited by Horacio Fernández and published by Aperture, has been awarded the historical book award at the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival. The volume, a blend of bibliography, facsimile, and encyclopedia, offers a critical study of the most important photography books to come out of Latin America, from the 1920s to today. Along with Aperture’s The Dutch Photobook: A Thematic Selection from 1945 Onwards and Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s, The Latin American Photobook is part of a growing body of scholarship on the photobook and its place in photographic history.

Jonathan Torgovnik won the Rencontres d’Arles Discovery prize for Intended Consequences—his portraits of women and their children who were born of rape in the Rwandan genocide—which was published by Aperture in 2009. Watch an excerpt of a panel discussion with Torgovnik, and read an interview with the photographer on FLYP. Intended Consequences and limited-edition prints of Torgovnik’s work are available for up to 35% off as part of Aperture’s summer sale, until midnight EST, August 10, 2012.

Check out The Guardian for more coverage of the Rencontres d’Arles festival prizes.

Santiago Vanegas

I recently had the great pleasure of getting to know Santiago Vanegas and exploring his varied portfolios of interesting projects. Santiago brings an interesting set of aesthetics to his work. He has navigated in and out of two cultures throughout his life–born in Philadelphia and then moving back and forth between the United States and his native country of Colombia, eventually staying in Colombia for the next 14 years. Inspired by his mother, a painter, Surrealist art, Latin American magic realism, music, and and the world of cinema, Santiago creates work that looks at the dark and the light in life. “I see the world in a way that even to me is a bit strange, but very real. The world is a strange, complicated, and fascinating place. I’m constantly drawing metaphors of how I see the world and its future. My images are about the relationship between reality and perception.”

Since attending the MFA program in photography at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Santiago has been working as an editorial. commercial, and fine art photographer, and has been featured in Surface Magazine, WIRED, Flaunt Magazine, Picture Magazine, GRAPHIC Magazine UK, the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and many more. He currently lives in Atlanta with his wife and children. I am featuring two of Santiago’s projects, People and Nature and Anartica.

People and Nature: When experiencing this particular natural landscape, I cannot help notice a disconnect. Disconnect between people and their surroundings. Disconnect between people and other people. Disconnect between people and themselves. Sometimes it’s all pretty harmless. People just are how they are. No harm done. It is what it is. Other times that disconnect can lead to our discordance with nature.

When I think of “people & nature”, ideally I envision a person out in the wild loaded with sporting gear, exploring and becoming one with nature. It’s a nice picture, and it happens in reality. It is a good thing. However, I can’t help noticing how odd so many “normal” people can be in nature. Some choose to go in high heels, glued to their mobiles. Others may take the nature hike while sipping energy drinks out of brightly colored containers and getting their family picture taken with blank smiles that quickly disappear after the digital camera’s beep (click). People become the landscape.

In one way or another, I’m one of them. Aren’t we all?

It’s hard to unravel how I see people in nature. My lack of an explanation is why I’m drawn to making images of it. More than actual statements about people in nature, I have questions. Sometimes when I observe it feels bizarre, odd. Other times it feels like something isn’t right, something is off. Then there are moments of choreographed reality. I guess when it comes to people and nature, harmony and disfunction go hand in hand.

Antarctica: It’s been a while since I’ve returned from Antarctica and I still can’t fathom having been there. It’s like going to another planet. I’ve never been to another planet, but I imagine this is the closest I’ll ever get to one. Ironically, being in Antarctica is probably the closest I’ll ever feel to Earth. The experience has fostered images of absolutes. Vast landscape, infinitesimal human. Our dire threat to nature, and the delicate polar ecology. Navigating the treacherous Drake Passage, our small boat at the mercy of fifty foot waves. Life, death. The list goes on. It’s humbling. It’s a place where the miniscule and the monumental are mutually epic.

People ask me, “Why go to Antarctica?”. There are many reasons. Some of which I have yet to discover. I went to Antarctica because soon it will be a very different place. In the past few years, ice shelves as massive as countries have broken off the continent and are melting into the ocean. Death and Beauty. Antarctica is dying. Such an unlikely and complex place. I had to go, absorb, and tell a story.

Review: Foto/Gráfica @ Le Bal

Le Bal’s latest exhibition, Foto/Gráfica: Une nouvelle histoire des livres de photographie latino-américains (A New History of Latin-American Photobooks) opened last week. The show is based on a selection of 40 books taken from Horacio Fernandez’s recently published book on books, The Latin-American Photobook (Aperture, 2011). This is not Le Bal’s first photobook exhibition—they presented Japanese Photobooks Now in the summer of 2011—but it is the first time that they have devoted their entire space to an exhibition of books. Following this show they will be hosting the 5th International Fotobook Festival, which is traditionally held in Kassel, so it seems that photobooks are becoming one of the major areas of focus of their programme.

According to Martin Parr, Latin-American photobooks “are the best kept secret in the history of photography”… one of the many secrets that are being steadily revealed by Parr and/or Aperture through The Photobook: A History series, Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s and a forthcoming book on Chinese photobooks that Parr is doing with WassinkLundgren chez Aperture. The ‘books on books’ phenomenon is gaining so much traction that Andreas Schmidt, a pleasingly disruptive photobook maker, is already looking forward to the book on books on books which surely can’t be too far away. As for Parr’s quote, I am willing to take his word for it, knowing absolutely nothing about Latin-Amercian photobooks (with a few Mexican exceptions) and having had very few opportunities to see any.

© Pascal Martinez

I was particularly interested to see how Le Bal would take on this subject. Although there appears to be a growing trend for exhibiting books, the ones I have seen so far have generally been disappointing. Books are not an easy thing to exhibit, in fact they are exhibition-resistant in my view. Most people’s preferred position for reading or looking at books is sitting down and they are generally consumed by one person at a time, things that are difficult to replicate in an exhibition context. Exhibitions do not encourage visitors to touch the works on display, making it difficult to display more than one spread, something which is painfully reductive unless multiple copies of each book displayed can be tracked down. I think the key in exhibiting books is in overcoming these obstacles by recreating the immersive experience of a book in a way that goes beyond the experience of going into a very good bookstore.

In addition to the basic difficulties of exhibiting books, Le Bal’s space is far from huge whereas Latin America is on the large side and presumably has produced a decent number of interesting photobooks over the years. This poses the additional challenge of avoiding the exhibition equivalent of a ‘best of’ compilation album. To borrow the strapline from a random ‘Best of Latin America’ compilation, this could have been “a lively exhibition filled with hot and spicy Latin American photoboks!” which would probably have given me a severe case of indigestion.

Thankfully the exhibition successfully avoids most of these pitfalls. Rather than structuring the exhibition around individual countries, it is broken up into a series of sections: history and propaganda, urban photography, photographic essays, artist books, literature and photography, and contemporary books. These categories go beyond the traditional bounds of the photobook, expanding its definition to something like ‘books that contain photography,’ which makes the terrain far more diverse and interesting, bringing in books such as the revolutionary propaganda tome, Sartre Visite a Cuba (1960) or Auto-photos (1978) an artist book documenting a performance. There is enough material in each of the sections to whet the appetite, but without requiring you to spend several hours in the exhibition space just to cover all the material on display.

The scénographie of Foto/Gráfica is particularly good, the best I have seen for a photobook exhibition. Firstly, in order to tackle the issue of displaying more than one spread from each book, the organizers have decided to go down the road of sacrifice and cut the books up so that a series of spreads can be displayed (there are clearly enough copies of these books to spare, as book-surgery is not the kind of thing that could be done with an exhibition of rare Japanese photobooks for example). The books are displayed in a variety of different ways, from ‘classic’ glass display cases, to superimposed custom shelving units hanging on the walls. The exhibition also makes good use of prints, which are exhibited alongside the books and are a useful reminder of how different these media are. In the downstairs space, the central wall has been covered with scans of the spreads from a single book with a handful of prints displayed in mounts floating on the surface, a very impressive display. I’m posting a few of the official installation views with this post, as my crappy iPhone shots would not do the exhibition justice. By deconstructing the books in these different ways, it makes the viewer think about the form of the book and its specific qualities.

© Pascal Martinez


© Pascal Martinez

© Pascal Martinez

The success of Foto/Gráfica is that it opens itself out beyond Latin American photography to engage with Latin American artistic culture more broadly. By giving politics, literature and other art forms center stage, the exhibition not only provides some much-needed context, but opens up a number of interesting paths of inquiry. Photobook lovers won’t need my encouragement to go and see this, but this is one for those that are not book geeks as well. After Paris, the exhibition is travelling to Ivory Press in Madrid, Aperture in New York and to the Museo del Libro y de la Lengua in Buenos-Aires.

Foto/Gráfica, Une nouvelle histoire des livres de photographie latino-américains, Le Bal, 20 January – 8 April 2012.

Rating: Recommended


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Aperture Events at Paris Photo 2011

Aperture will be hosting a multitude of events and book signings at this year’s Paris Photo photography fair. Join us for these special occasions, or stop by Aperture’s booth throughout the fair for a fantastic selection of special editions, prints and books.




Friday, November 11, 2011

2:00 pm – Horacio Fernandez The Latin American Photobook
4:30 pm – Hank Willis Thomas Pitch Blackness
6:00 pm – Penelope Umbrico (photographs)





Saturday, November 12, 2011

2:00 pm – Richard Mosse Infra
3:30 pm – Brian Ulrich Is This Place Great or What
4:30 pm – Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb The Suffering of Light and Violet Isle
6:00 pm –  Rinko Kawauchi Illuminance



Sunday, November 13, 2011

2:00 pm – The New York Times Magazine Photographs Signing


An exhibition at Boutique Montblanc
Wednesday, November 9 – Sunday, December 18, 2011
7 Rue de la Paix

Launch for the Photobook Review
Thursday, November 10, 10:30 am
Paris Photo Booth E26

Launch for The Latin American Photobook at Le Bal
Thursday, November 10, 2:00 pm
6, Impasse de la Defense