The third speaker in the RPS series of talks on exhibiting, curating, collaborating and more is Ana Casas Broda.
I only spoke to Ana for the first time late last year and I feel invigorated by her. I primarily knew her from her Kinderwunsch work that I saw in Susan Bright curated Home Truths exhibition at the Photographer's Gallery. It's work on motherhood that is raw, primal, and has something of a dark side of the subconscious to it.
That dark side, the sense that photography can go beneath the surface and tap into the way we feel, experience, and see the world is also evident in Ana's curatorial work at La Hydra in Mexico City.
Image by Diego Moreno
Here Ana continues to tap into themes of motherhood, domesticity, family and sexuality through this group. She also runs a very active publishing house, which has upcoming books by Joan Fontcuberta and Diego Moreno.
Moreno's latest book, IN MY MIND THERE IS NEVER SILENCE, looks at the 'panzudos' that are found in 'the neighborhood of La Merced in San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, México. Revealing themselves every year on the 22nd of September—the feast day of Our Lady of La Merced—the Panzudos descend onto the streets to purify themselves of their sins.'
It's work that exemplifies Ana's fascination with Mexican and Latin American photography and the ways in which colonialism, politics and protest have changed in the region in the last 70 years. In the past there was a photography of activism and witnessing. It was a photography that mattered, that captured the violence and oppression across the continent, which served as a visual source of information and witnessing.
That tradition continues, but photography is also transforming rapidly as new technologies come into being, and the way is opened for new practitioners. In Moreno's work, pre-Hispanic traditions come into play in familiar situations, in work that "gives new meaning to the intricate tangle of the concealed and the visible, the individual and the collective subconscious, on the highly complex map of coexisting cultures and beliefs in contemporary Mexico,” says Moreno.
So photography is tapping into visual and psychological ways of being that are completely (as in COMPLETELY) outside the traditional western frame of reference. What happens to images when they come from beyond the traditions of a broadly accepted canon, when they link to ways of thinking that do not fall into the rigid Abrahamic and commercial hierarchies of contemporary photography theory and practice?
It's a broad question but it ties into ideas of diversity that go beyond representation into the ways of thinking that lie behind that representation. And you can extend that to the ways of thinking that lie behind how we talk about photography, or art, or representation. If you are operating in spheres where artistic, cultural, and economic capital overlap, and the ways in which you think are limited to North European/American polarities, then who gets seen or talked about or valued is determined by conforming to a correct way of thinking.
And that is what Ana's talk will be about; the diversity of representation in Mexico and the region, the way new technologies are opening up photography to new forms of photographic representation, new ways of thinking and new audiences. And it will be about much more, because Ana is perhaps the most energetic and dynamic person I have ever met; her head is spinning with resources, references, and a love for the visual in its most challenging forms.
This is the brief for the talk. You can sign up and find more information here.
Mexico and Latin America are marked by social and political struggles, cultural and ethnic contrasts. With more than 300 indigenous communities that preserve pre-Hispanic traditions, living side by side with mestizos and foreigners, Mexico is one of the most diverse and complex countries in the world.
This talk will look at how, in the last 15 years, the democratization of access to internet, social media and photographic devices have opened a new and amazing scenario in which communities outside the mainstream art scene in Mexico are creating new representations that address their own cultural and personal identity in ways that integrate their ancient cosmovision with contemporary photography.
2. Wednesday 10th March – Curating Photography - Susan Bright
3. Wednesday 17th March – Cultural, political and personal identity in Mexican and Latin American photography - Ana Casas Broda
4. Wednesday 24th March – Flora, Photography, Illustration - Gem Toes Crichton
5. Wednesday 31st March – Collaboration and Queerness - Anthony Luvera
6. Wednesday 7th April – The archive in photography – Candice Jansen
7. Wednesday 14th April – Africa in the Photobook - Ben Krewinkel
8. Wednesday 21st April – Establishing a Photo Festival - Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati