Changing the Focus: Latin American Photography 1990 – 2005

Photo copyright by Alfredo Jaar


Photo copyright by Gabriel Orozco



FEBRUARY 14 – MAY 2, 2010


Changing the Focus: Latin American Photography 1990-2005 is the first survey exhibition of Latin American photography and photo-based art from 1990 to 2005 to be presented in the Los Angeles area. With more than 80 works of art by 37 artists such as Gabriel Orozco, Vik Muniz and Alfredo Jaar, the exhibition profiles the diversity and innovation of contemporary Latin American photography through an array of media; from traditional photography to manipulated digital photography, installations, light-boxes and photo-based art. Richard Townsend, the Museum’s President and CEO said, “We are pleased to bring to the public’s attention this important aspect of the history of photography, and in particular its very vital practice in Latin America and by Latin American artists throughout the world.”

By the end of the 20th century, photography in Latin America had distanced itself from the traditional documentation of the political and social nature of the region to embrace other forms of experimental photography which communicated social commentary through more artificial representations. Changing the Focus: Latin American Photography 1990-2005, explores the shift from the predominant documentary based photography of the 1980s to a more conceptual use of the medium and a more critical interpretation of reality. Exhibition curator Idurre Alonso stated, “The 1990s is a breakthrough decade for Latin American photography. It is during this time that Latin American photographers became part of the international art scene and generated works of art that showed innovative themes and techniques while some of them moved in a more conceptual direction.”

The exhibition opens by questioning the traditional documentary value of photography by exploring the photo-based interpretations of historic landscapes and objects. Photographs presented in this section deal with architectural elements and objects which depict the complex social and political realities experienced in Latin America through metaphorical references. For instance, the Venezuelan artist Luis Molina Pantin (Switzerland, b.1969) takes a critical look at the hybrid architectural forms in the urban landscape of Cali, Colombia, and the criminal ostentation of what he calls narco-arquitectura, the extravagant mansions of the Colombian drug traffickers. On the other hand, Milagros de la Torre (Peru, b. 1965) approaches photography with the eyes of an investigator by utilizing violently charged items of clothing, weapons and other objects from crime scenes to develop a collection of silent and haunting narratives of criminal activity.

Changing the Focus transitions to the internalization of the document and artists such as Tatiana Parcero (Mexico, b. 1967) and Daniela Rossell (Mexico, b. 1973) use the body as the stage or the setting for the photograph and focus on subjects such as group or individual identity and social classes and roles. A photographic series by Parcero called Cartografías intimately displays a series of anatomical diagrams and ancient Mexican codices projected onto her nude body, serving as maps that chart territories beyond the physical. Rossell created a polemical and ironic body of work that delves into the world of the ultrarich classes of Mexico’s oligarchic elite.

Lastly, the exhibition moves to focus on images and staged situations from an entirely artificial and satirical setting, causing the viewer to question the reality of the subjects presented. These works by artists like Marcos López (Argentina, b. 1958) are theatrical and kitschy in their composition and aim to discuss both the advantages and the disparities of the various political, social and economic agendas in Latin America.

Changing the Focus: Latin American Photography1990-2005 is organized by the Museum of Latin American Art and curated by Idurre Alonso. A fully illustrated color catalog accompanies the exhibition.

The exhibition is presented by the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Robert Gumbiner Foundation, Verizon Wireless, Arts Council for Long Beach, City of Long Beach, Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Annual Exhibition Fund. Media support is provided by ABC7, KCRW 89.9 FM, La Opinion, LA Weekly and Telemundo.

MOLAA Hours: Sun., Wed., Fri. and Sat. 11:00am – 5:00pm, Thurs. 11:00am – 9:00pm

Closed Monday and Tuesday

Admission: $9.00 General/ $6.00 Students (w/ID) and Seniors (65+)

Members and children under 12 FREE

 Contact Martha Guzman: 562.216.4112

By Jim McKinniss

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