Latin America certainly is characterized by rich diversity. Although each of its countries has its particularities, the region's identity has been torn between the pre-Hispanic world, the post-colonial experience, and the capitalist drivers, and these contradictions are perhaps best embodied in the photographic practices.
The upcoming exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery will chart half a century of Latin American photography. Titled Urban Impulses: Latin American Photography from 1959 to 2016, it brings together more than two hundred photographs drawn from the extensive collection of Leticia and Stanislas Poniatowski, recognizing the significant historical events that have marked the region. Among photographers on view are Alberto Korda, Graciela Iturbide, Sergio Larrain, José Alberto Figueroa, Eduardo Longoni and Beatriz Jaramillo.
Offering a diversity of artistic approaches, the exhibition traces some of the most important moments of the Latin American history, including the Cuban revolution, military dictatorships in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay, along with mass social movements which, in still unconsolidated democracies, have given way to repression.
Many photographers on view acted as activists in both the artistic and political fields. At the same time, the show highlights the existence of photography in tandem with other media of mass circulation such as graphics, photocopying and print media.
Curated by Alexis Fabry and María Wills Londoño, the exhibition is organized around two themes - Shouts and Pop-ular.
Shouts examines photography's role in documenting identities and presences, but also as a weapon against silence. When in the face of kidnappings and forced disappearances carried out by authoritarian regimes the law failed to obtain justice, the walls of the cities become a place for communicating powerful messages. These slogans and cries of protest have been captured by many photographers, reflecting the anger and cynicism, the hopes and frustrations of the cities’ residents in these images.
On the other hand, Pop-ular explores how the artists mined the tropes of mass media and their manifestation in public spaces; they captured the rapid development of the region followed by the richness of pop culture imagery adapted to its context. These works show us Latin America as a pastiche of the past and the present, of the local and the international.
The exhibition Urban Impulses: Latin American Photography from 1959 to 2016 will be on view at The Photographer's Gallery in London from June 14th until October 6th, 2019. It will be accompanied by a dual-language full-color catalog which is available online and in TPG’s Bookshop.
Featured images: Paolo Gasparini - Cuba, 1961-1965. Vintage gelatin silver print © Courtesy of the artist; Paz Errazuriz - Untitled, from the series Tango, 1988. Vintage gelatin silver print © Courtesy of the artist; Pedro Valtierra - Maestros golpeados, 1984. Vintage gelatin silver print © Courtesy of the artist; Facundo de Zuviria - Evita, ca. 1987. Vintage print © Courtesy of the artist; Eduardo Longoni - La batalla de la Plaza de Mayo, 20 diciembre 2001. Chromogenic vintage print © Courtesy of the artist; Carlos Somonte - Untitled (Aquileo Valtierra González), from the series Internos, México, 1997. Vintage gelatin silver print © Courtesy of the artist; Armando Cristeto - PolyMarchs, from the series Las noches del reventón, México, 1985. Vintage gelatin silver print enhanced by the artist and plastic button © Courtesy of the artist. All images courtesy of the Photographers' Gallery.