Record and trace: 'Voces: Latin American Photography' at Michael Hoppen gallery

Exhibition 'Voces: Latin AmericanPhotography 1980-2015' on display in a white walled gallery
In ’Voces: Latin American Photography 1980–2015’, Chilean curator Chantal Fabres has assembled work by seven artists from Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Brazil
(Image credit: press)

'Voces: Latin American Photography 1980–2015', a new photographic survey at London’s Michael Hoppen gallery (opens in new tab), is clearly ambitious in scope. Works here, assembled by Chilean curator Chantal Fabres, are by seven artists from Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Brazil. It is a vast area to cover in time and space.

There is a particular political charge to the exhibition, of course, and a particular way of looking at what’s on show. What is photography for? And how has it been used in an area where both truth and collective memory have been repressed and erased by dictators and juntas – whose comic epaulettes belie sophisticated terror – and where troublesome citizenry were ‘disappeared’? But, as Fabres says, that is anything but the whole story and conversations about Latin American art are too readily framed by this political history. The work here is varied and reflects varied histories; it is from Latin American rather than of Latin America. And yet, you are made constantly aware that photography, as record and trace, does mean something different in Latin America.

The Argentinean photographer Marcelo Brodsky is perhaps the most explicitly political of the artists here, intent in some ways on summoning up the disappeared, including his own brother. The work of Chilean artist Nicolás Franco is marked by analogue post-production techniques, wrapping pre-existing images and film stills, from Buñuel surrealism to low budget erotica, in plastic film and then reshooting them. The Brazilian Anna Bella Geiger explores ideas around culture, geography, cartography and identity in various media. Mexican artist Jonathan Hernández de-captions and re-contextualises newspaper and advertising imagery. Chilean artist Andrés Durán digitally subverts pompous monuments in his native Santiago. Leonora Vicuña creates elegies to neighborhood bars and restaurants, and their irregular regulars.

Perhaps the show’s standout though is Rosãngela Rennó. For years, Rennó has collected piles of negatives and played technical tricks on them. She cares little for the history of these found or rescued images, only that they survive as traces of something. At ‘Voces’ she presents found images printed on gauze and then lit and layered to mesmerising effect.

Photos from exhibition ’Voces: Latin American Photography 1980–2015’ on display in a white room

The breadth of the continent means the issues explored are just as vast: not just what photography is for, but what it means in a region where truth and collective memory have been repressed by dictatorial governments

(Image credit: press)

Photos from exhibition ’Voces: Latin American Photography 1980–2015’ on display in a gallery

But, Fabres insists, the work here is varied and reflects varied histories; it is from Latin American rather than of Latin America

(Image credit: press)

Pareja en Cinzano Bar, Valparaiso, Chile, by Leonora Vicuña, 2001–2008.

Leonora Vicuña creates elegies to neighborhood bars and restaurants. Pictured: Pareja en Cinzano Bar, Valparaiso, Chile, by Leonora Vicuña, 2001–2008.

(Image credit: Leonora Vicuña)

Rrolos, by Anna Bella Geiger, 2011

 The Brazillian artist Anna Bella Geiger explores themes of culture, identity, geography and cartography in her work. Pictured: Rrolos, by Anna Bella Geiger, 2011.

(Image credit: Galeria Aural)

Ecuestre, by Andrés Durán, 2014 (P#1)

Ecuestre, by Andrés Durán, 2014 (P#1).

(Image credit: Andrés Durán and Metales Pesados)

Vulnerabilia (interiores), by Jonathan Hernandez, 2013

Mexican artist Jonathan Hernández de-captions and re-contextualises newspaper and advertising imagery. Pictured: Vulnerabilia (interiores), by Jonathan Hernandez, 2013.

(Image credit: Jonathan Hernandez and Kurimanzutto, Mexico City)

Lonesome Encounter with Melancholic Corpses (II), by Nicolás Franco, 2011

Chilean artist Nicolás Franco wraps pre-existing images and film stills in plastic and then reshoots them. Pictured: Lonesome Encounter with Melancholic Corpses (II), by Nicolás Franco, 2011.

(Image credit: Nicolás Franco and the Michael Hoppen Gallery)

Insólidos Series – Untitled (costura), by Rosãngela Rennó, 2014.

Rosãngela Rennó ignores the history of her subjects: instead using them as objects of survival, and playing technical tricks on the negatives before presenting them on gauze, lit and layered. Pictured: Insólidos Series – Untitled (costura), by Rosãngela Rennó, 2014.

(Image credit: Edouard Fraipont, Rosãngela Rennó and Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon)

SOS, Madrid, by Marcelo Brodsky, 1992/2015

The Argentinean photographer Marcelo Brodsky is perhaps the most explicitly political of the artists here. Pictured: SOS, Madrid, by Marcelo Brodsky, 1992/2015.

(Image credit: Marcelo Brodsky and Rolf Art, Buenos Aires)

INFORMATION

’Voces: Latin American Photography 1980–2015’ is on view until 9 January 2016

ADDRESS

Michael Hoppen Gallery
3 Jubilee Place
London, SW3 3TD

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