Critics’ Picks

Xtabay Zhanik Alderete, Die, 2012, C-print, 27 1/2 x 27 1/2”. From “Paisajes para el fin de la existencia” (Landscapes for the End of Existence), 2012.


“(Re)presentaciones: Fotografía Latinoamericana Contemporánea”

C / Ambassadors, 51
June 23–August 25

Installed in La Tabacalera, a crumbling former tobacco factory, as part of the PhotoEspaña festival, this exhibition considers the effects of political change on everyday life in Latin America via the traditions of landscape, portraiture, and documentary photography. Several of the fourteen artists on view confront fluctuating political and economic policies, as in Eduardo Giménez’s series “Espacios de control” (Control Spaces), 2011. Giménez critically displays the architecture of Mexico’s new economy through images of large cafeterias filled with empty rectangular tables where workers in new industrial cities are surveilled even as they eat. For his series “Los olvidados” (The Forgotten Ones), 2012, Fabián Hernández photographed Costa Rican soldiers who fought in the 1948 civil war, which led to the democratic reforms that abolished the army. Portraits such as that of Hector Miranda Calderón, whose shirt sags with the weight of the medals he acquired, poignantly demonstrate the pride of these ex-combatants.

Other artists focus on personal history as the point of departure for their work, while probing the divide between reality and fiction. Roberto Tondopó’s series “La casita de turrón” (The Gingerbread House), 2010, documents his niece and nephew in states of play. In Congelado, 2010, for instance, the boy’s head is obscured by a freezer door covered in colorful stickers, transforming the scene into a surreal vista. For Xtabay Zhanik Alderete, the loss of his grandmother inspired a series of abstract landscapes, “Paisajes para el fin de la existencia” (Landscapes for the End of Existence), 2012. He offers different models for rendering absence by showing Ende (Thus), an image of an empty bed made with white sheets sitting in an abandoned alleyway, alongside Déposer (Lay Down), wherein white geometric shapes float improbably on water, elegiacally receding into the distance under an ominous sky. Such representations of the ephemeral, like many of the works in the show, test out possible ways to map our experiences onto our surroundings.