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'Photography in the Americas' Yields Much More Than Documentary

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Joiri Minaya, '#dominicanwomengooglesearch,' 2016. Installation view at Wave Hill Sunroom Project Space, 2016. (Photo by Stefan Hagen; Collection of the artist)

Did you feel left out while Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA took over nearly every Southern California arts institution last year? Led by the Getty, LA/LA brought Latin American and Latino art into dialogue with the city of Los Angeles and its artists. Our southern neighbors got so many amazing exhibitions — among them, shows of radical women, photographs from the archives of La Raza and works from the queer scene of 1960s-90s LA.

But wait! Before you drown yourself in the tears of missed road trip opportunities and Latin American art not seen, the Cantor Arts Center is here for you.

The rather academically titled The Matter of Photography in the Americas features artists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Latino communities in the United States — all using photography not just for documentary purposes, but to question the very nature of image-making as a truthful medium.

Claudia Joskowicz, Still from 'Every Building on Avenida Alfonso Ugarte—After Ruscha,' 2011.
Claudia Joskowicz, Still from ‘Every Building on Avenida Alfonso Ugarte—After Ruscha,’ 2011. (Courtesy of the artist and LMAK gallery, NY)

Works in the show include installations (Dominican artist Joiri Minaya’s fragmented and expansive #dominicanwomengoogleresearch), a conceptual project borrowed from Ed Ruscha (Bolivian artist Claudia Joskowicz’s video Every Building on Avenida Alfonso Ugarte—After Ruscha) and vibrant combinations of materials (Mexican artist José León Merrillo’s Untitled cyanotype).

The artists in The Matter of Photography question how photography has distorted and perpetuated conceptions of Latin America, ponder whether the many images in our lives help or hinder our ability to empathize, and demonstrate what photographic practices that are neither documentary nor ethnographic can look like. And on top of all of that, the work looks stunning.



‘The Matter of Photography in the Americas’ is on view at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University through April 30, 2018. For more information, click here.

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