Between portrait and self-portrait: Photography & Representation

VII edition of PHOTOIMAGEN Dominican Republic, 2016

/ 25 November, 2016

From its first edition in 2006, PHOTOIMAGEN has become a platform for the promotion of photography—in and from the Dominican Republic—that contributes to the positioning of the country in the international artistic map. An event of this nature, in which local and international artists are guests, promotes the multicultural dialogue, necessary and possible to pierce the physical and mental boundaries of the so-called by Antonio Benítez Rojo pueblos del mar (sea peoples).

In this occasion, with Cuba as Invited of Honor, the 7th version of PHOTOIMAGEN brings out the topic “Between the portrait and the self-portrait: photography and representation”. More than half a hundred Cuban artists were included in the three main exhibitions in the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), showing mythical and iconic images from the social and cultural reality and identity of the Cuba of the last six decades. Portraits that lead us through history, the interiorities and the imaginary of the Cuban society, from the Triumph of the Revolution in 1959 to today.

Contra viento y marea: fotografía cubana 1959-2016 (Against Wind and Tide: Cuban Photography 1959-2016) is an exhibition organized with the collaboration of the Fototeca de Cuba, which gathers a selection of 106 works made by 42 photographers of various generations during the signaled period. In words by Carlos Acero Ruiz, Dominican visual artist, art critic, Artistic Director and curator of PHOTOIMAGEN  and  of  this  exhibition:  “In  this  remarkable group we may appreciate images which are part of the history of Cuba. In many of them we find documentary registers of transcendental moments in the political, cultural and economic life of the island. It also shows the social, urban and human reality of the Cuban people (…)”

Acero Ruiz was also curator of the show Ordinary People, of photographers Maria Eugenia Haya (1941-1991) and Mario García Joya (1938), known as Marucha and Mayito, belonging to the generation of Cuban photographers who emerged with strength  after the Triumph of the Revolution. Ordinary People exhibit part of the funds of the Archivo del Centro de la Imagen de México (Central Archive of the Image of Mexico), CMF Fund, Mario García Joya Collection. These photographs, Acero Ruiz affirms, “were conceived, in a great measure, in spaces devoted to dance and music, with series made in the 1970s and 1980s of the past century. Its authors found a source of inspiration in the daily life of common people in Cuba and created an important visual document in which they fundamentally photographed the reality of those years and, therefore, the new social order product of the Revolution. (…)”

The banality of the sea—perhaps coincidence or analogy with the expression “The banality of the evil”, minted by philosopher Hanna Aredt—completes this trilogy which is presented to us as a very select and representative sample of the best of contemporary Cuban photography. Its curator, Cuban Juan Antonio Molina, induces us to think and rethink “the sea as one of the most conspicuous symbols of the insular identity”, alluding to that sea that surrounds us, identifies us, isolate us and, at the same time, unites us. “When turning it into a leit motiv of this exhibition, we have assumed it as a point of departure to deal with a possible identity of contemporary Cuban photography. To approach it once again—to re-tratar [a pun with a word in Spanish, which means to portrait, and also to try again]—we should say. (…)

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