Critics’ Picks

Uxmal, Casa de las Palomas, 1993, gelatin silver print, 16 x 20".

Buenos Aires

Leandro Katz

Centro Cultural de España en Buenos Aires
Paraná 1159
July 17–September 7

Deploying a self-reflexive approach to photographic documentation, Argentine film and installation artist Leandro Katz deconstructs the ethical and visual codes used for representing Mayan culture. Culled from a series of projects that Katz has produced over more than two decades, the exhibition summarizes his ambivalently voyeuristic approach to the Mayans. In pieces like Uxmal—Casa de las Palomas, 1993, the artist holds the detailed drawings that Frederick Catherwood did for John L. Stephens’s popular nineteenth-century ethnographies on the Yucatán in the frame of the photograph alongside the present-day image of the ruin. In Copan—Estela H, in the Manner of Catherwood, 1988, he simply juxtaposes his photograph with the original drawing, creating a diptych that destabilizes the authority of both images. This critical pose envelops the spectator as well, who peers at the ethnographic metastudy of ruins with self-conscious curiosity. Huella de Viernes, 1982, evokes this hungering for contact, projecting a light-box image of a sculpted foot from one of the ruins at floor height alongside a human footprint in an actual pile of sand. Katz further dissects contemporary tourism in Templo del Dios Descendiendo, Tulúm, 1985, a photograph of colorfully dressed tourists scrambling atop the white-stone seaside temple. The show’s title piece, a taxidermied vulture whose head consists of a camera, presides over the exhibition, black wings outspread, its talons gripping a black aluminum pedestal, symbolizing both the voyeuristic pose of the photographer and the ancient god Quetzalcoatl.