The Matter of Photography in the Americas

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The Matter of Photography in the Americas

February 7 – April 30, 2018


For the past fifty years, Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean artists have been pioneers in critical thinking about photography. Resisting the impulse to simply document the outside world, they are addressing crucial questions about the medium’s role as an aesthetic pursuit, a means of communication, and a political tool: What effect has the proliferation of photographs in the press over the last century had on our understanding of current events? How have photographs helped codify limited conceptions of the varied peoples, cultures, and landscapes of the Americas? Has the growing flood of photographs in our daily lives sharpened or dulled our capacity for empathy and cross-cultural exchange? And how has the emergence of digital imaging opened up avenues for rethinking the very matter of photography?

In addressing such inquiries, the artists featured in The Matter of Photography marshal materials far afield of those traditionally associated with picture taking. Drawings and prints, films and installations, photocopies and books are all brought to bear in powerful critiques of the medium’s development and historical functions. Acutely aware of the numbness to photographs that the flood of images in our daily lives has bred, these artists find powerful ways of sharpening our visual acuity. In the process, they incite active participation in the creation of meaning within a heterogeneous world of contemporary photographic imagery.
Jodi Roberts

Halperin Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Cantor Arts Center

Natalia Brizuela

Associate Professor, University of California Berkeley


Durante los últimos cincuenta años, artistas latinoamericanos, latinos y caribeños han sido pioneros en el uso de la fotografía como herramienta crítica. En lugar de unicamente documentar el mundo exterior, sus obras abordan preguntas cruciales sobre el papel de este medio como búsqueda estética, mecanismo de comunicación y herramienta política: ¿Qué efecto ha tenido la proliferación de fotografías en la prensa durante el último siglo para nuestra comprensión de la actualidad? ¿De qué modo la fotografía ha ayudado a codificar concepciones limitadas sobre la variedad de personas, culturas y paisajes de las Américas? ¿El torrente cada vez mayor de fotografías en nuestra vida diaria ha agudizado o mellado nuestra capacidad de empatizar o tener intercambios con otras culturas? ¿De qué maneras el surgimiento de la imagen digital ha abierto espacios para repensar a la fotografía misma?

Al plantear estos interrogantes, los artistas presentados en La materia de la fotografía en las Américas reúnen materiales bastante apartados de aquellos tradicionalmente asociados con la producción de fotos. Dibujos y serigrafías, filmes e instalaciones, fotocopias y libros: todos ellos son empleados para plantear críticas fundamentales a las funcines históricas y políticas de este medio, y de su predominancia en los territorios mediáticos y economâs globalizadas. Sumamente conscientes de cierta indiferencia hacia las fotografías que ha producido la avalancha de imágenes en nuestra vida diaria, estos artistas encuentran diferentes maneras de avivar nuestra agudeza visual. En el transcurso, estas obras apelan a nuestra participación activa para la creación de sentidos dentro del mundo ahora heterogéneo de la imagen fotográfica contemporánea.
Jodi Roberts

Curadora de arte moderno y contemporáneo, Cantor Arts Center

Natalia Brizuela

Profesora, Universidad de California, Berkeley



Reproduced on cheap newsprint, on the pages of glossy magazines, and online, photographs have been a driving force in news media since the early twentieth century. The works featured here intervene in the ceaseless—supposedly objective and informative—flood of journalistic images in order to call attention to the social agendas, political narratives, and biases embedded within them. In extracting particular news images and altering their visual form, presentation, and framing, these works draw attention to the lives and bodies of those who affect and are affected by events considered newsworthy. They explore how photographic images in the news have taken on the task of delivering ideology in nonverbal, and therefore presumably transparent, ways.


Reproducidas en periódicos baratos, en las páginas de las revistas de moda y en la red, las fotografías han sido una fuerza motriz en los medios noticiosos desde principios del siglo veinte. A partir de los años 60, conglomerados mediáticos en México y Sudamérica –financiados o apoyados por operadores de gobiernos autoritarios- se aprovecharon del poder de la fotografías de prensa para proyectar una imagen de prosperidad y bienestar. Al mismo tiempo, nuevas leyes de censura invisibilizaban imágenes de sufrimiento y resistencia. Producidos durante gobiernos autoritarios y después de la caída de algunos de los regímenes más notorios del siglo veinte, los trabajos acá presentados ponen en foco a las agendas sociales, narrativas políticas y sesgos insertados en las imágenes de prensa. Al extraer imágenes de noticias particulares y alterar su forma visual, presentación y marco, estos trabajos llaman la atención a las vidas y cuerpos de aquellos que afectan y son afectados por eventos considerados noticiosamente relevantes. Exploran cómo las imágenes en las noticias han asumido el rol de transmitir ideología en formas no verbales y, por lo tanto, presumiblemente transparentes.

Teresa Margolles

Mexico, b. 1963

PM 2010, 2012

313 digital reproductions of covers of the newspaper PM from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, published in 2010

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, L.94.1.2017
Over the course of 2010 Teresa Margolles collected the covers of the evening newspaper PM from Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. This is a local daily paper published Monday through Saturday, with an ephemeral existence given that it has no online edition and past issues are recycled every three months. The work is a record for this moment in history, as we witness the collapse of the social fabric and the resilience of the community of that border city. It delves into the obscene in order to highlight Ciudad Juárez’s role as laboratory and omen of the reality of Mexico. It provides a sort of anthology of the daily suffering caused by the so-called drug war, the impunity of feminicide, the traffic of weapons, people, and substances, extended corruption, and the annihilation of the young. It shows the end result of an economy of violence.

Catalina Parra

Chile, b. 1940
5. Minas de Chuquicamata (Mines of Chuquicamata) 1977

Photomontage, red thread, and transparent plastic thread

6. Siga (Proceed), 1974

Photomontage and surgical tape

7. Pleased to Announce, 1981

Text, New York Times newspaper, photo image montage, white thread stitching, white gauze, and white paper tape on white paperboard

Courtesy of Isabel Soler L.97.2.2017, L.97.1.2017, L.97.3.2017
Jorge Julián Aristizábal

Colombia, b. 1962

8–10. Serie: PHOTO PRESS (Series: PHOTO PRESS)


Acrylic on newspaper
Jorge Julián Aristizábal, L.55.1.1-3.2017

Alfredo Jaar

Chile, b. 1956
Searching for K, 1984

Suite of eighteen collages and drawings on museum board and one pigment print

Courtesy of Alfredo Jaar and Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, L.40.2.2017
Alfredo Jaar’s critique of the politics of images and the military junta that assumed power in his native Chile in 1973 pervades Searching for K. As in many of his works, Jaar’s conceptual strategy involves appropriating media elements to reveal unspoken, unacknowledged, or refuted information. In this photographic archive, a red ring encircles the smiling face of Henry Kissinger, national security advisor under Presidents Nixon and Ford, in press images of his diplomatic journeys. The repetition of Kissinger’s figure illuminates his global power and influence as well as his role in imperial interventions, particularly in South America, in the 1970s. Jaar’s work highlights

the inability of any single news photograph or media source to accurately represent political phenomena on a global scale.

(Please note this work was removed from the galleries)

Alfredo Jaar

Chile, b. 1956
Faces, 1982

Suite of eleven chromogenic prints mounted on Dibond

Courtesy of Alfredo Jaar and Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, L.40.4.2017
As a recent immigrant to New York in 1982, Alfredo Jaar researched and archived international media coverage of the 1973 military coup in his native Chile—coverage that had been censored inside the country by the military government of Augusto Pinochet. The eleven panels in this installation pair exhumed journalistic photographs of the coup with cropped and enlarged individual faces from within the images, many belonging to persons “disappeared” by Pinochet’s regime. Registering the fear, sadness, and resignation on the individual faces lost in crowded and chaotic historical photo-graphs, Jaar points to the indescribable human cost of authoritarian violence and repression. His enlarged portraits also call into question the ability of photojournalism—uneven in its coverage and often overwhelming in its quantity—to memorialize lives transformed by political oppression.

Beatriz González

Colombia, b. 1938
1. Pacto andino (Andean Pact)

2. Turbay condecorado (Turbay Honored)

3. Turbay y Nuncio (Turbay and Vatican Representative)

4. Turbay y paloma (Turbay and Dove), 1980

Pencil on paper

Lent by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Latin American and Caribbean Fund, L.10.4.2017, L.10.6.2017, L.10.7.2017, L.10.5.2017
In her sketchbook drawings, Beatriz González traced the contours of newspaper photographs of Colombian President Julio César Turbay Ayala, a politician whose administration (1978–82) was criticized for human rights abuses. These simple, hand-drawn silhouettes capture the activities of leadership—reunions with religious leaders, attending congressional meetings, conferring with military personnel, hosting foreign dignitaries—represented in the daily press. González has described the process of reducing press photographs to their barest contours as a type of meditation that enables her to break through the formulaic narratives and ideological framing of the mass media. Her works unveil the ways in which supposedly neutral documentary photographs conceal everyday violence and corruption.

Graciela Sacco

Argentina, 1956–2017
Lanzapiedras (Trebuchet), 2014

from the series Perpetual Fight, 1997–2014

Digital inkjet print on paper
Courtesy of Marcos & Clara Garavelli, executives of Graciela Sacco’s Estate, L.83.1.2017
The works in Graciela Sacco’s series Perpetual Fight push the descriptive capacity of mass-circulated news images past its limits. Her large-scale posters and installations, based on details excised from photographs of mass protests and political demonstrations, have appeared in sites around the globe, usually years after the original events occurred. Sacco withholds all information about her images’ origins. Consequently, her works free the borrowed pictures from the pressures of specific signification, repositioning them as icons capable of accumulating new meanings in new contexts.



Since the mid-nineteenth century, photography has provided a key means of exploring and learning about Latin American and Caribbean landscapes, indigenous peoples, and cultures. Images of these subjects enjoyed brisk sales in Europe and the United States. The artists in this section question how the medium’s documentary capacities have perpetuated an image of Latin America and the Caribbean as exotic, seductive, and available for exploitation. Often ironically assuming the guise of early traveler-photographers and/or their indigenous subjects, these artists point to the power relations at play in ethnographic photographers’ portrayals of people and geographies for clients in faraway, powerful nations.


Desde mediados del siglo diecinueve, la fotografía ha sido un recurso importante para explorar y aprender sobre los paisajes, los pueblos indígenas y las culturas de Latinoamérica y el Caribe. Imágenes de estos asuntos gozaron de ventas activas en Europa y Estados Unidos. Los artistas en esta sección indagan cómo las capacidades documentales de la fotografía han perpetuado una imagen de Latinoamérica y el Caribe como exótico, seductor y disponible para ser explotado. Frecuentemente asumiendo con ironía la apariencia de viajeros del pasado y/o de “sus” sujetos indígenas, los artistas en esta sección apuntan a las relaciones de poder en juego en las representaciones de personas y geografías realizadas por los fotógrafos etnógrafos para clientes en naciones lejanas y poderosas. De este modo cuestionan el uso de este tipo de imágenes en una época en la que los parámetros legales del colonialismo europeo y el imperialismo norteamericano han mutado a formas más sutiles de control económico y cultural.


Miguel Calderón

Mexico, b. 1971
Serie Museo de Historia Natural #3 (Museum of Natural History Series #3), 1995

Digital inkjet print on paper

Courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City, L.49.1.2017

Anna Bella Geiger

Brazil, b. 1933
Brasil nativo, Brasil alienígena (Native Brazil, Alien Brazil), 1977

Series of nine pairs of postcards

Lent by the Blanton Museum of Art, the University of Texas at Austin, gift of Shifra M. Goldman, L.11.3.2017
Brasil nativo, Brasil alienígena juxtaposes nine mass- produced picture postcards featuring indigenous inhabitants of Amazonia with photographs of the artist restaging the activity or pose depicted in each image. Described as “Native Brazil,” the former type of postcard proliferated at Brazilian newsstands throughout the 1970s, providing urbanites and tourists with nostalgic national imagery during a period of violent government encroachment on Amazon territories. By appropriating the visual lexicon of colonial photography, Anna Bella Geiger turns the ethnographic gaze back on itself, critically examining the performance of national identity and the contemporary real-world purposes that exotic indigenous imagery served.

Eugenio Dittborn

Chile, b. 1943
Nueve sobrevivientes (plumas) (Nine Survivors [Feathers]), Airmail Painting no. 51, 1986–2007

Paint, feathers, ink, and photo silkscreen on wrapping paper Courtesy the artist and

Alexander and Bonin, New York, L.53.1.2017
Nueve sobrevivientes (plumas) is one of Eugenio Dittborn’s Airmail Paintings, a series of mixed-media photo-silkscreens folded and mailed through the postal system to avoid detection by Chile’s dictatorial regime (1973–1990). The work features reproductions of ethnographic photographs, newspaper clippings, drawings by children and mental patients, criminal mug shots, and other archival sources linked to the control and surveillance of subjects deemed inferior or subversive by the government. In his

acts of appropriation, Dittborn recirculates vestiges of vanquished or forgotten characters whose identities and stories were erased from historical records—or who simply disappeared.

Adriana Bustos

Argentina, b. 1965

Paisajes del alma (Landscapes of the Soul), 2011

Video, color, sound, 4:30 min.

Adriana Bustos, L.102.1.2017
The systems and logic of colonialist expansion (categorization, mapping, control) structure the work of Adriana Bustos. In Paisajes del alma the artist physically inhabits a museum diorama, a didactic device with roots in the Age of Discovery, the period of feverish European expansion that lasted from the fifteenth to the early nineteenth century. Her body and contemporary dress disrupt the diorama’s idealized arrangement of plants and animals, highlighting the disparity between the seemingly timeless natural world presented in artificial museum displays and the realities of the present day. Photography’s origins are also suggested here: before receiving acclaim as an inventor of photography, the Frenchman Louis Daguerre experimented with dioramas as part of his research on refracted light.

Adriana Bustos

Argentina, b. 1965
Miguel con Sombra en un Cerrito (Miguel with Sombra over a Cerrito), 2006

Digital inkjet print on paper

Adriana Bustos, L.102.2.2017

Oscar Farfán

Guatemala, b. 1973
Depuración étnica (Ethnic Cleansing), 2015

1,428 digital inkjet prints on paper; video, color, sound, 5 min. loop

Courtesy of the artist, L.57.1.1-1429.2017
Constructed from an archive of 1,600 photographs of people from different regional, ethnic, and class backgrounds, Depuración étnica challenges the construction of the “universal mestizo” as the national identity of Mexico following the Mexican Revolution (ca. 1910–20). After more than a decade of bloody conflict, government officials and thinkers proposed an ideal future citizen whose body and mind would represent a harmonious blend of Mexico’s diverse races and religious and cultural traditions. Oscar Farfán juxtaposes an immersive grid of portraits with colonial-era aesthetic conventions such as maps, scientific drawings, casta paintings (diagrams of people of different ethnic mixes), and anthropological photographs that historically were used to measure, categorize, and control the social body. The artist thus suggests that the ethnic homogenization of Mexican citizens in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is an ideological fiction that continues to violently deny individuals agency in forming

their own identities.

Roberto Huarcaya

Peru, b. 1959

Amazogramas, 2014

Three photograms printed on cotton photographic paper

Courtesy of the Ute and Bill Bowes Art & Architecture Library, Stanford Libraries, L.98.1.2017
This limited-edition artist’s book reproduces the Amazogramas, a series of three one-hundred-foot-long photograms created in the Amazon rainforest under moonlight. In the nineteenth century, naturalists often employed photograms—photographic images made by placing objects directly on light-sensitive paper— to create encyclopedias of natural resources in the New World. Winding enormous stretches of emulsified paper through the Amazon’s canopy and allowing nature to take its course, Roberto Huarcaya encouraged the flora and fauna of this endangered territory to imprint themselves directly on the paper. The Amazogramas, in a sense, reverse the human-controlled process used by earlier naturalists, thereby challenging systems of representation that exploit nature as a commodity.



Photography has always been an invaluable tool of police forces and state agencies. Since its invention, it has helped governing authorities visualize individuals and groups considered a threat to the welfare of the larger social body. The works in this section examine the legacy of photography-enhanced social policing and criminology. Frequently created in nations that suffered long periods of violent dictatorships in the twentieth century, they expose past and present-day modes of photographic surveillance, and they question how photography restricts citizens by capturing and circulating images of physical traits regarded as suspect.


La fotografía es, y siempre ha sido una herramienta invaluable para la fuerza policial y las agencias estatales. Su capacidad de ofrecer una representación precisa de las características físicas de un cuerpo ha ayudado a autoridades gubernamentales a visualizar y rastrear a aquellos individuos y grupos considerados como una amenaza al bienestar del cuerpo social. Los trabajos en esta sección examinan el legado de la fotografía pensada como aparato de vigilancia social usada por la criminología. Estas obras, creadas frecuentemente en naciones que sufrieron periodos largos de dictaduras violentas durante el siglo veinte, exponen modos pasados y presentes de vigilancia fotográfica y cuestionan cómo la fotografía restringe a los ciudadanos al capturar y circular imágenes de aspectos físicos considerados como sospechosos.

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz

Puerto Rico, b. 1972

10 Years / Long Exposure, 2014

Six digital inkjet prints on paper

Courtesy of the artist and Galería Agustina Ferreyra, L.81.1.1-6.2017
In these enigmatic digital photographs, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz reproduces individual frames of a 35mm filmstrip found in the abandoned cinema of Roosevelt Roads, a decommissioned naval base in Puerto Rico. Over the course of ten years, the island’s elemental forces eroded the film’s emulsion, alchemically transforming documentary images of US colonial occupation into poetic abstractions. Part of Muñoz’s series of works on “post-military” sites in the Caribbean region, the photographs explore the material nature of temporality and memory, as well as a long arc of history rooted in the perseverance of a people and their land.

Eugenio Dittborn

Chile, b. 1943
Nueve sobrevivientes (plumas) (Nine Survivors [Feathers]), Airmail Painting no. 51, 1986–2007

Paint, feathers, ink, and photo silkscreen on wrapping paper

Courtesy the artist and Alexander and Bonin, New York, L.53.1.2017
Nueve sobrevivientes (plumas) is one of Eugenio Dittborn’s Airmail Paintings, a series of mixed-media photo-silkscreens folded and mailed through the postal system to avoid detection by Chile’s dictatorial regime (1973–1990). The work features reproductions of ethnographic photographs, newspaper clippings, drawings by children and mental patients, criminal mug shots, and other archival sources linked to the control and surveillance of subjects deemed inferior or subversive by the government. In his

acts of appropriation, Dittborn recirculates vestiges of vanquished or forgotten characters whose identities and stories were erased from historical records—or who simply disappeared.

Milagros de la Torre

Peru, b. 1965

Under the Black Sun (Peruvian Flag), Under the Black Sun (Couple), Under the Black Sun (Frontal-Profile), 1991–93

Hand-dyed toned gelatin silver prints, fabric ribbon, and mercurochrome

Courtesy of the artist and Toluca Fine Arts, Paris, L.100.1–3.2017
Milagros de la Torre’s series appropriates the techniques of commercial street photographers in Cuzco who create instant ID photographs with box cameras. After these photographers expose and develop a portrait on paper inside their cameras, they remove the negative, apply a red mercurochrome solution to the skin areas, and rephotograph the paper to produce a positive image. This chemical retouching lightens the skin, appealing to customers who aspire to the social and economic benefits historically granted to persons of European ancestry in Peru. De la Torre enacts the first part of this popular process but omits the second, so that the sitter’s face remains red-stained; in this way she questions the enduring racial hierarchies established by colonialism and their associated imaging practices.

Letícia Parente

Brazil, 1930–1991
Projeto 158 1-2 (Project 158 1-2), 1975

Digital inkjet print on paper, two sheets

Courtesy of Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo, Brazil, L.51.4.1-2.2017

Letícia Parente

Brazil, 1930–1991
Recrutamento de pessoal 1-2 (Personnel Recruitment 1-2), 1975

Xerox on paper, two sheets

Courtesy of Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo, Brazil, L.51.3.2017

Mónica Mayer

Mexico, b. 1954
Lo normal (On Normality), 1978

Ten postcards

Archivo Ana Victoria Jiménez, Acervos Históricos, Biblioteca Francisco Xavier Clavigero, Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México, L.79.1.1-10.2017
In her performance Lo normal, Mónica Mayer parodied the typically chaste and moralistic women’s magazine quiz by distributing postcards with statements of sexual fantasy and taboo: “I want to make love: with my lover, before getting married, with my father, in a full theater, etc.” Participants were instructed to circle responses ranging from pleasure to embarrassment to disgust, illustrated in exaggerated self-portraits of the artist. Mayer’s gesture, produced in the context of the emergent feminist movement, explored photography as an apparatus of social control as well as a vehicle for the self-representation of identity.

Ángela Bonadies

Venezuela, b. 1970
Palacio negro (Black Palace), 2011–12

Eighteen digital inkjet prints

Courtesy of the artist, L.56.1.1-18.2017
Palacio negro documents Ángela Bonadies’s investigation of the Palacio de Lecumberri, the site of Mexico’s national archive, which until 1976 was a notorious prison dubbed the “Black Palace.” She juxtaposes annotated images of her examination of archival film negatives of the penitentiary with architectural photographs of the site as a repository for national remembrance. In doing so, Bonadies strategically links the disciplinary practices of looking, recording, and classifying to prison and the archive, identifying both as institutional spaces that exert state power over the individuals within them.

Stefan Ruiz

United States, b. 1966
Suspected Drug Mule, Bogotá, Colombia, 2013

Archival pigment prints

Courtesy of the artist, L.74.1.a-b.2017



Portraiture has been a favored subject of photographers since the mid-nineteenth century. Satisfying sitters’ desires for flattering images of themselves, portrait photography thrives on visual conventions that render the body as whole, healthy, and attractively in line with mainstream aesthetic norms. In contrast, the bodies presented in this section are purposefully undisciplined and exuberantly unruly. These images undermine photography’s role in categorizing physicalities as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, cherished or stigmatized. If photography has historically been used to discipline social bodies, these fractured portraits of fractious bodies visualize the ungovernable.


El retrato fotográfico contribuye a las convenciones visuales que hacen del cuerpo algo completo, saludable y atractivo, en línea con las normas estéticas establecidas y satisfaciendo el deseo de los modelos de tener una imagen halagadora de sí mismos. Enfrentados a un lente fotográfico, tendemos a asumir poses practicadas y expresiones prefiguradas porque intuimos la relación entre apariencia exterior y posibilidad social. De manera opuesta, los cuerpos presentados en esta sección son deliberadamente indisciplinados y exuberantemente desaliñados. Estas imágenes socavan el rol de la fotografía de categorizar físicos como buenos o malos, aceptables o inaceptables, apreciados o estigmatizados. Si la fotografía ha sido históricamente usada para disciplinar cuerpos sociales, estos retratos fracturados de cuerpos desaliñados visualizan lo ingobernable.

Ana Mendieta

United States, b. Cuba, 1948–1985

Untitled_(Glass_on_Body_Imprints)'>Untitled (Glass on Body Imprints), 1972, estate print 1997

Suite of six estate color photographs

Courtesy the Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, L.40.3.2017
In this, one of her first body performances, Ana Mendieta challenged the conventional appearance and function of portrait photography by pressing her face and nude body against glass plates to produce contorted, disfigured, and unruly corporeal images. Her performance for the camera disrupts the supposedly uncomplicated objectivity and

reproducibility of the photographic image, as well as the idea that photography is a tool for easy identification. Eliciting a visceral as well as a visual response, Mendieta’s process emancipates the body from the prescribed standards of beauty that typically inform photographic portraiture.

Hudinilson Jr.

Brazil, 1957–2013
1. Untitled, ca. 1980

Cut-and-pasted photocopy on ten pieces of paper

Lent by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Latin American and Caribbean Fund through gift of Pedro Barbosa in honor of Mauro Herlitzka, 2016, L.10.8.2017

José León Cerrillo

Mexico, b. 1976
2. Sombra Canibál (Cannibal Shadow), ca. 2015

Cyanotype and silkscreen ink on cotton paper

Courtesy of the artist and josegarcia, mx gallery, L.75.1.2017
Claudio Perna

Venezuela, 1938–1997

3. Autocopias, 1975

Exhibition catalogue

Private collection, courtesy of Henrique Faria, New York, L.41.4.2017
Claudio Perna’s Autocopias (literally “self-copies”) disrupt the fixity of traditional photography to experiment with sequence, movement, and identity. After photocopying his body parts, domestic objects, and personal documents such as newspaper clippings and family photographs, he recopied the images, dragging them across the glass of the photocopier to create illegible blurs, deformations, and degradations. These self-portraits exploit the existential relationship between original and copy, presenting an unstable identity that is always in process or development.

Hudinilson Jr.

Brazil, 1957–2013
4. Narcisse

from the series Exercício de me ver II (Exercise in Seeing Myself II), 1980s

Courtesy of Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo, Brazil, L.51.5.2017
Hudinilson Jr.’s critiques of traditional portraiture involved real-world risk. Working in Brazil in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he used the most ordinary of photographic technologies, the Xerox machine, to protest the Brazilian government’s prohibitions against homosexual relationships and expressions of identity. The artist’s candid representations of his own nude body pressed against the machine’s surface enlist

the office equipment in sexual acts frowned upon by the military regime. Flouting laws censoring the public expression of queer desire, Hudinilson Jr.’s works declared his body proudly irrepressible.

Paulo Bruscky

Brazil, b. 1949

5. Xeroperformance, 1980

Xerography, photograph and stamp on paper

6-8. Xeroperformance: Still de Xerofilme

(Xeroperformance: Still from the Xerofilm), 1980

Xerography on transparency; Xerography on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Galeria Nara Roesler, L.92.1–4.2017

Liliana Porter

Argentina, b. 1941
Wrinkle/Arruga, 1968

Series of ten photo etchings with title page; limited modern edition of ten portfolios printed by or under the supervision of the artist, 2008–13

Courtesy of the artist, Sicardi Gallery, L.42.4.2017



Photography challenges the idea of originality. Since its beginning, it has been belittled as overly mechanical, lacking creative potential. Moreover, photography’s ability to reproduce multiple copies of the same image was an affront to the notion that the value of an artwork lies in its singularity. The circulation of renowned photographs online has further challenged the fetishistic appreciation of original works, as millions of viewers can now access images without recourse to a physical print or a reproduction in a paper publication. The criticism that photography is no more than a tool for direct reproduction of real-world things and scenery—which is to say, for making copies—parallels long-standing claims that Latin American art is, by and large, derivative of artistic trends from cultural superpowers. The artists in this section take up questions of creativity, originality, and primacy through a medium that has always been associated with copying. Produced in supposedly subordinate Latin American and Latino sites, the works embrace pastiche as a means of critique.


La fotografía desafía la idea de originalidad. Su capacidad de de reproducir múltiples copias de la misma imagen es una afrenta a la noción de que el valor de una obra de arte está en su singularidad. La circulación de fotografías reconocidas en la red ha desafiado aún más la apreciación fetichista de obras originales, ya que millones de espectadores pueden acceder ahora a imágenes sin la necesidad de tener una copia impresa o una reproducción en una publicación impresa. La crítica de que la fotografía no es más que una herramienta para la reproducción literal de cosas y escenas del mundo real –es decir, que es simplemente para hacer copias– se asemeja a afirmaciones establecidas de que el arte latinoamericano es simplemente una derivación de las tendencias artísticas y culturales de Europa y Estados Unidos. Los arristas en esta sección abordan cuestiones de creatividad, originalidad y primacía a través de un medio que ha sido siempre asociado al acto de copiar. Producidads en sitios latinoamericanos y latinos supuestamente subordinados, en estas obras el pastiche o la imitación es una pose crítica.

Álvaro Barrios

Colombia, b. 1945

Álvaro Barrios como Marcel Duchamp como Rrose Sélavy como L.H.O.O.Q. (Álvaro Barrios as Marcel Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy as L.H.O.O.Q.), 1980–2011

Laser print, signed in pencil with stamps

Courtesy of the artist and Henrique Faria, New York, L.41.2.2017
This portrait is a “reciprocal readymade” made from two seminal works of conceptual photography: Man Ray’s iconic Marcel Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy (ca. 1920–21), showing Marcel Duchamp in drag, and Marcel Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. (1919), an altered postcard reproduction showing the Mona Lisa with a mustache. Álvaro Barrios remakes these iconic gender-bending works while modifying garments, accessories, mannerisms, and other signifiers of white aristocratic European femininity. Echoing Duchamp’s posturing, Barrios claims the specificity of Latin American character while deconstructing the notion of “originality” as the primary criterion of aesthetic value.

Álvaro Barrios

Colombia, b. 1945
Sueños con Marcel Duchamp (Dreams of Marcel Duchamp), 1980–2011

Six silkscreens with handwritten inscriptions by the artist

Courtesy of the artist and Henrique Faria, New York, L.41.1.2017

Mario García Torres

Mexico, b. 1975
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, 2008

Fifty-two 35mm digital slides, 9:28 min.

Mario García Torres, L.60.1.2017

Claudia Joskowicz

Bolivia, b. 1968
Every Building on Avenida Alfonso Ugarte— After Ruscha, 2011

Two-channel digital HD video, color, sound, 26 min.

Courtesy of the artist and LMAKgallery, L.50.1.2017
Every Building on Avenida Alfonso Ugarte—After Ruscha documents everyday activity in the majority-indigenous city of El Alto, Boliva’s fastest-growing urban center and a site of deadly violence during the 2003 conflicts over exploitation of the country’s gas reserves. In a long tracking shot, Claudia Joskowicz’s camera travels a commercial corridor, recording the bustling movements of vendors and residents. Along its slow, observant journey, it encounters another daily reality for locals: confrontation with state police. Joskowicz’s title alludes to Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966), a twenty-five-foot-long accordion-style photobook showing two uninterrupted views—one for each side of the street—of a mile-and-a-half stretch of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Vik Muniz

Brazil, b. 1961
The Best of LIFE—Portfolio, 1989

Ten gelatin silver prints

Courtesy of the artist and Rena Bransten Gallery, L.54.1.2017

Nicola Costantino

Argentina, b. 1964
Los sueños de Nicola (The Dreams of Nicola), 2012

Digital inkjet print on paper

Courtesy of the artist and BARRO, L.59.1.2017

Ángela Bonadies

Venezuela, b. 1970
Copia original: Diane Arbus + Gordon Matta-Clark + Grete Stern

(Original Copy: Diane Arbus + Gordon Matta-Clark + Grete Stern), 2011–14

Digital inkjet print on paper
Courtesy of the artist, L.56.3.2017
The staged photographs in Ángela Bonadies’s series Copia original feature domestic objects and reproductions of artworks by renowned international artists and their Latin American peers. This composition frames a Diane Arbus photograph of marginalized social subjects within a chiseled cardboard casing reminiscent of the deconstructive “building cuts” of Gordon Matta-Clark. The drinking glass evokes the surrealistic photographs of the acclaimed German Argentine modernist Grete Stern. Through these multiple framing devices and aesthetic displacements, Bonadies constructs an intricate web of references. Pointing to images easily found in books and online, her work proposes an alternative to art historical canons that privilege artists and viewers from Europe and the United States.

Ángela Bonadies

Venezuela, b. 1970
Copia original: Ed Ruscha + Enciclopedia + Walid Raad + Alfred Wenemoser (Original Copy: Ed Ruscha + Encyclopedia + Walid Raad + Alfred Wenemoser) 2011–14

Digital inkjet print on paper

Courtesy of the artist, L.56.2.2017

Marcos López

Argentina, b. 1958
Tomando sol en la terraza (Sunbathing on the Terrace) 2002

Digital inkjet print on paper

Courtesy of the artist, L.82.1.2017
Tomando sol en la terraza is an irreverent reconstruction of La buena fama, durmiendo (The Good Reputation, Sleeping, 1939) by the celebrated Mexican photo- grapher Manuel Álvarez Bravo. Marcos López, an Argentine, exchanges the seminude indigenous woman and cactus spurs of the black-and-white surrealist composition for a male sunbather with beer bottles, cigarettes, sports magazines, and the hyperreal colors of commercial advertising. Dismantling romantic clichés and myths of authentic Latin American identity, Lopez presents a contemporary urban reality shaped by global consumerism, mass media, celebrity fashion, and concern with appearance.

Geraldo de Barros

Brazil, 1923–1998
Sobras (vidros) (Leftovers [Glass]), 1996–98

Photographic negatives cut and placed with adhesive tape on glass plates

Collection Fabiana de Barros / Instituto Moreira Salles, L.90.1–3.2017

Geraldo de Barros

Brazil, 1923–1998
Sobras (Leftovers), nos. 156, 185, 199, 1996–98

Gelatin silver prints

Sesc Art Collection – Sesc São Paulo – Brazil, L.91.1–3.2017
Created late in the artist’s life, Geraldo de Barros’s Sobras recycle and renew the achievements of a long career. Active as a photographer, painter, and designer, de Barros is best known for the groundbreaking abstract photographs he began making in the late 1940s. In the Sobras, he mined his own rich photographic archive, collaging together the negatives of early artworks, family snapshots, and reproductions from books to create vibrant new compositions that intermingle abstract forms and recognizable objects

and scenery.



The emergence of digital imaging in the 1970s and its rapid displacement of analog photography among amateur picture takers speaks to the emergence of a new relationship between humans and machines. The works featured here unveil the process of encoding at the heart of digital photography. Yet the artists behind them also insist on the human aspect of creative work, be it by digital or handcrafted means—they find a creative tension between the machine-made and the human-made. In their nuanced critiques of technology and blurring of the boundary between the technological and the human, these works push back against the idea of Latin America as untamed, indigenous, and technologically backward.


El surgimiento de la imagen digital en los años setentas y el rápido desplazamiento de la fotografía analógica entre los fotógrafos amateurs marcan el surgimiento de una nueva relación entre humanos y máquinas. Los trabajos presentados acá revelan el proceso de codificación en el seno de la fotografía digital. Aun así, los artistas detrás de estas obras insisten en el aspecto humano del trabajo creativo. Ya sea por medios digitales o manuales ellos encuentran una tensión entre lo manufacturado por la máquina y por el hombre. En sus críticas matizadas de la tecnología y en su desdibujar los límites entre lo tecnológico y lo humano, estos trabajos van contra la idea de Latinoamérica como indómita, aborigen y tecnológicamente atrasada.

Waldemar Cordeiro

Brazil, b. Italy, 1925–1973

A mulher que não é B.B. (The Woman Who Is Not B.B.), 1969

Offset printout

Private collection, L.73.1.2017
This was one of the first artworks to transform a photographic image into a computer-generated picture. Working on an early IBM computer, Waldemar Cordeiro processed a news photograph of the Vietnam War to produce a pixilated iteration that introduced random “noise” in the form of dark dots and overlapping coding symbols. In cropping and abstracting the original image, he transformed the culturally specific document into an icon of worldwide anti-imperial struggle. “Not B.B.”—meaning, “not Brigitte Bardot”

—is a critique of the exploitative photojournalistic coverage of Vietnam War victims by the international mass media. The work also presages the explosion of globally circulated images with the advent of digital media.

Waldemar Cordeiro

Brazil, b. Italy, 1925–1973
Gente Grau 2 (People Grade 2), 1973

Computer press output

Private collection, L.73.2.2017

Alfredo Jaar

Chile, b. 1956
Self-Portrait, 1977

Pigment print

Courtesy Alfredo Jaar and Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, L.40.1.2017

Bernardo Ortiz

Colombia, b. 1972
Untitled, 2015

Digital inkjet print on paper

Courtesy of the artist and Casas Riegner, L.43.2.2017

Bernardo Ortiz

Colombia, b. 1972
Untitled, 2015

Six digital inkjet prints on paper

Courtesy of the artist and Casas Riegner, L.43.1.1-6.2017
To make this work, Bernardo Ortiz employed obsolete computer tools to foreground digital-age processes of cultural production and interpretation. With the early computer-based typesetting system TeX, Ortiz converted the pixels of an ordinary found photograph (such as this one showing a beach umbrella) into layers of alphanumeric characters and keyboard symbols. The glitches, stutters, and degradations of the resulting image-texts underscore the supports, technologies, and processes of translation that mediate our experience of what is legible or illegible in the everyday world.

Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck

Venezuela, b. 1972
Corrupted file from page 14, 2006−8 made using the earlier series La Vega, Plan Caracas No. 1, 1974–76

Digital chromogenic print from faulty scanner, face mounted on acrylic with Dibond backing with aluminum profile

Kadist, L.52.1.2017

Fernando Velázquez

Uruguay, b. 1970
#302, 2014 from the series Mindscapes

Digital inkjet print mounted on Plexiglas

Courtesy of the artist, L.78.1.2017

Joiri Minaya

Dominican Republic, b. United States, 1990
#dominicanwomengooglesearch, 2016

Digital print on Sintra and fabric collage

Courtesy of the artist, L.58.1.2017


What is the antidote to photographic excess and the numbness it engenders? The artists in this section suggest a radical solution: removing photographs from the visual field. Some offer words in place of images, while others rely on printing methods and other photographic techniques to obscure, cover up, or dissolve the recognizable images we expect to see. They suggest that the only way to restore photography’s poignancy as a record of human experience and as a spur to understanding the world empathically is to withhold the visual stimuli to which we are accustomed.


La proliferación de tecnologías de imagen digitale en las últimas décadas ha aumentado el número de fotografías en nuestra vida diaria de manera inconmensurable. Distribuidas por todo el mundo a la velocidad de la luz, billones de imágenes son compartidas y consumidas en la red cada día. ¿Cuál es el antídoto para el exceso fotográfico y la insensibilidad que esto produce? Los artistas en esta sección sugieren una solución radical: remover las fotografías del campo visual. Algunos ofrecen palabras en lugar de imágenes, mientras que otros se apoyan en métodos de impresión y otras técnicas fotográficas para oscurecer, cubrir o disolver las imágenes reconocibles que esperamos ver. Ellos sugieren que la única manera de restaurar la conmoción de la fotografía como registro de la experiencia humana y como estímulo a una comprensión empática del mundo es suspendiendo el estímulo visual al cual estamos acostumbrados.

Nuno Ramos

Brazil, b. 1960

Nomes dos Mortos (Names of the Dead), 2016 from the series 111 Vigília, Canto, Leitura (111 Vigil, Singing, Reading), 2016

Video, color, sound, 24 hours

Nuno Ramos Collection, L.99.1.2017
Nuno Ramos’s 111 Vigília, Canto, Leitura commemorates the 1992 Carandiru Penitentiary massacre, one of the worst human rights violations in modern Brazilian history that left 111 prisoners dead at the hands of military police. Conceived in response to the state’s recent pardon of the officers responsible for the killings, Ramos’s vigil avoided the photographic sensationalism of dead bodies that dominated media coverage of the Carandiru tragedy. Instead, Ramos honored the lives of the victims by staging a twenty-four-hour performance with artists, teachers, musicians, journalists, lawyers, and activists repeating the names of the deceased.
(please note this work was removed from the gallery)

Johanna Calle

Colombia, b. 1965
Pie de fotos (Captions), 2012

Four typewritten texts on gelatin silver prints from a series of eighteen

Archivos Perez & Calle, Bogotá/Galeria Casas Riegner, L.43.3.1-4.2-17
Inspired by an archive of police files on assassinations and forced disappearances in Colombia, Johanna Calle’s series Pie de fotos exhibits blank sheets of photographic paper with typewritten descriptions of crime scenes at the bottom. Without the aid of visual imagery, the viewer must mentally reconstruct the disturbing acts described in each file. Such work counters the repeated and often numbing imposition of violent imagery in the public sphere. And in the specific context of Colombia, it accentuates the hollowing absences that resulted from the violence that plagued the country in the late twentieth century.

Rosângela Rennó

Brazil, b. 1960
2005—510117385–5, 2009

Forty-nine inkjet prints on Innova digital 315 gram paper

Collection of the artist, courtesy Galeria Vermelho, L.93.1-49.2017
The images reproduced here by Rosângela Rennó have lived a furtive existence as part of a larger trove of nineteenth-century photographs stolen from the Biblioteca Nacional in Rio de Janeiro in 2005 during an employee strike. Of the more than 700 robbed photographs, 101 have since been returned to the institution—all worse for wear, bearing the signs of their journey as the thieves worked to obscure their library identification marks. The photographs’ literal disappearance and defacement echoes the broader destruction to collective memory when photographs and documents are forgotten, lost, or censored. “What matters to me here is not the image recorded [in the pictures]” Rennó explains, “but the damage to the patrimony.”

Oscar Muñoz

Colombia, b. 1951
Narciso, 2001

Video, sound, black and white, 3 min.

Courtesy of the artist and Sicardi Gallery, L.42.6.2017

Oscar Muñoz

Colombia, b. 1951
Línea del destino (Destination Line), 2006

Video, silent, black and white, 2 min.

Courtesy of the artist and Sicardi Gallery, L.42.2.2017

Iñaki Bonillas

Mexico, b. 1981
Word and Photos, 2014

Web project

A project by Iñaki Bonillas commissioned by Dia Art Foundation at, courtesy of the artist and Dia Art Foundation,


Iñaki Bonillas

Mexico, b. 1981
Filatelia (Philately), 2011

Twenty laminated digital prints on photographic paper mounted on museum board and aluminum, wooden shelves

Courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City, L.49.2.2017

Iñaki Bonillas

Mexico, b. 1981
Escritura nocturna (Night Writing), 2015

Twenty photogravure prints on paper

Courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City, L.49.3.2017
Iñaki Bonillas’s photogravure series Escritura nocturna draws its title from Charles Barbier’s code system, a forerunner of Braille, used by Napoleon Bonaparte’s soldiers to communicate silently during the night. Bonillas’s project is based on a photographic archive inherited from his maternal grandfather, who stored his photographs in black letter-size paper sleeves. Over years of exposure to heat, light, and humidity, the photographs physically imprinted their shapes onto the black paper to create enigmatic shadow images of the family’s history. Like Barbier’s system, these works translate a source of information typically comprehended visually into encodings that appeal to one’s sense of touch as well as sight.



Light, photosensitive chemicals, paper or another surface on which to print: these were the essential ingredients of photography before the advent of digital imaging. Working in an age when digital technologies have dematerialized images, these artists take up analog photography’s most basic elements, exploring their formal and communicative potential when relieved of the burden of representation. Showing things that are usually invisible to the naked eye, these works challenge our most basic assumptions about how a photograph should look and, by extension, the information it should provide. If a photograph need not be a register of the real world, what kinds of knowledge and experience might it spawn?


Luz, químicos fotosensibles, papel u otra superficie sobre la cual imprimir: estos eran los ingredientes esenciales de la fotografía antes del advenimiento de la imagen digital. Trabajando en una época en la que las tecnologías digitales han desmaterializado las imágenes, estos artistas retoman los elementos más básicos de la fotografía analógica, explorando su potencial formal y comunicativo cuando son extraídos de su peso representativo. Mostrando cosas que usualmente son invisibles a la simple mirada, estos trabajos desafían nuestras suposiciones más básicas de cómo se debe ver una fotografía y, por extensión, de qué información debería proveer. Si la fotografía no necesita ser un registro del mundo real, ¿qué tipos de conocimientos y experiencias debería engendrar?

Bruno Dubner

Argentina, b. 1978

Untitled, 2009

from the series Testimonio de un contacto (Testimony of a Contact), 2007–10

Cameraless chromogenic print
Lent by the Princeton Art Museum, museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund 2013-57, L.14.1.2017
To produce Testimonio de un contacto, Bruno Dubner moved through his blacked-out darkroom with photosensitive paper in his hands, exposing it

to ambient frequencies of light. Once developed, the paper revealed soft, glowing orbs and colorful light waves—recordings of emanations that are otherwise imperceptible to the human eye. The unique image transcends straightforward representation to function as testimony of the artist’s physical encounter with an environment. While abstract

in form, the work is as much an index of natural phenomena as a more conventional photograph of easily recognizable figures, objects, or scenery.

Priscilla Monge

Costa Rica, b. 1968
Amanecer 110 904115 (Dawn 110 904115), 2015

Gold leaf on digital print

Courtesy of Luis Adelantado Gallery, L.76.1.2017

Lourdes Grobet

Mexico, b. 1940
Light Landscape (Mexico), 1991

Color diapositive

Lourdes Grobet, L.87.1.2017

Nicola Noemi Coppola

Venezuela, b. 1979
Cuyutlan, 6, 12, 16, 2017

Emulsified fiber paper with silver nitrate exposed to the salt of the landscape and developed with sunlight

Nicola Noemi Coppola, L.96.1–3.2017
In these alchemical renderings of the natural environment, Nicola Noemi Coppola experiments with the chemical basis of the photographic medium to focus attention on the invisible effects of environmental change. Working without a camera, he places mineral sediment from various mining sites in Latin America

on silver nitrate paper and uses sunlight to develop the image. The iridescent photographs, unique to the geochemical elements of each site, remain chemically unfixed so that their material transformations will continue indefinitely, performing as, in the artist’s words, “the voice of the environment that will never be silenced.”

Oscar Muñoz

Colombia, b. 1951
Biografías (Biographies), 2002

Video, black and white, sound, 7 min.

Courtesy of the artist and Sicardi Gallery, L.42.5.2017

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