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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

Exhibition Review: Latin America in Photographs at The New York Public Library

Exhibition Review: Latin America in Photographs at The New York Public Library

Martín Chambi, Campesino con Llama, Sicuani-Cusco (Peasant with Llama, Sicuani-Cusco), 1938. NYPL, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints, and Photographs. © Archivo Fotográfico Martín Chambi Cusco – Perú

Martín Chambi, Campesino con Llama, Sicuani-Cusco (Peasant with Llama, Sicuani-Cusco), 1938. NYPL, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints, and Photographs. © Archivo Fotográfico Martín Chambi Cusco – Perú

Written by Kathryn Kearney

Latin America has been a popular destination among artists, especially photographers, for centuries due to its rich history, vibrant landscape, and intriguing citizens. In Viewpoints: Latin America in Photographs, an exhibit at the New York Public Library, an eclectic display of over 100 images taken from the 1860s through present day, documents peoples' experiences and impressions of Latin America. The exhibition is dedicated to showcasing work that truly captures the essence of Latin American during those years.

Viewpoints appeals to all spectators, regardless of if the photographs feel foreign or familiar to them. These photographs, as beautiful as they are alone, also give us insight into the way different people interpret the Latin American landscape. Some of the local photographers take more of a simple approach to their photography, while foreigners seem to go to greater measures in order to snap a good shot.

Flor Garduño, Canasta de luz (Basket of light), Sumpango, Guatemala, 1989. NYPL, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. © Flor Garduño

Flor Garduño, Canasta de luz (Basket of light), Sumpango, Guatemala, 1989. NYPL, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. © Flor Garduño

The New York Public Library acted strategically when it came to setting up this exhibit. The first half of the exhibition features pieces from 1850 through 1900. During this time period, European émigrés were the first to establish studios in Latin America, especially in major cities like São Paulo, Mexico City, and Lima. To parallel this timeline, two large-scale panoramas by European photographers who moved to Latin America are exhibited.

The next section of the exhibit is dedicated to photographs of women from Lima. Among these photos, one can recognize the varied interests among local and foreign photographers. While local photographers' works seem to take into account the job or activity the woman photographed is carrying out at the time, foreign photographers focus more on portraits, which speak volumes alone.

Valdir Cruz, Women—Crab Hunting (Irokai-teri), 1997. NYPL, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints, and Photographs. © Valdir Cruz

Valdir Cruz, Women—Crab Hunting (Irokai-teri), 1997. NYPL, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints, and Photographs. © Valdir Cruz

The second half of Viewpoints displays photographs from the 20th and 21st centuries. With advances in technology and more classes being offered regarding the art of photography itself by that point in time, the pictures from these later years display a greater sense of intention. The exhibit also features works taken by American photographers, who tended to focus on distinguishable landmarks.

All of the photos in Viewpoints were chosen from the New York Public Library’s Photographic Collection. This was the first photo exhibition devoted entirely to Latin America. It has proven to be a great success and has enticed people from all walks of life to come out and embrace this culture. The exhibit closes July 28th, but the impact it leaves on its viewers will last a lifetime.

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