Modern Latin American architecture through the lens of Leonardo Finotti
’Latin America Collection’, the exhibition now on show at Galerie 94 in the Swiss town of Baden, is both the culmination of an 8-year long project and the starting point of an ongoing series of books by Leonardo Finotti, the leading Brazilian photographer whose work has become a worldwide benchmark for architectural photography.
As part of a survey of Latin American modern architecture, Finotti was enlisted in 2008 by MoMA’s chief curator Barry Bergdoll, to capture his native region’s cityscapes, with a focus on modernist structures from between 1930 and 1980. From this mammoth effort nearly a hundred images of public and private modernist and contemporary structures emerged, turning this project into a monumental archive.
The selection of images on view at Galerie 94 were previously exhibited in three other exhibitions – in São Paolo, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina – curated by Michelle Jean de Castro. Now as then, Finotti’s photographs are presented in a sequence at eye-level, on a horizontal line, conveying to the viewer a sense of overlooking a horizon from which buildings materialise.
But while plenty of imposing metropolitan structures feature in his shots, Finotti doesn’t eschew the organically grown city sprawls; those chaotic examples of human activity that hold up a mirror to urban planners’ powerlessness in the face of explosive population growth. His series of photographs of football fields amidst the slums brings home the potentially harsh nature of public spaces, especially after eager trampling by street kids playing soccer.
The book that accompanies the retrospective, edited by Lars Müller Publishers, makes the most of Finotti’s straightforward yet grand style by spacing the images out page per page, drawing the eye to each structure’s architectural axes and each photograph’s geometrical composition.