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National Camera

National Camera: Photography and Mexico’s Image Environment

Roberto Tejada
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    National Camera
    Book Description:

    Roberto Tejada offers a study of Mexican photography from the early twentieth century to today, demonstrating how images have shaped identities in Mexico, the United States, and the borderlands where the two nations and cultures intersect—a place Tejada calls the shared image environment. Tejada traces the connective thread that photography has provided between Mexican and U.S. American cultural production and, in doing so, defines both nations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6785-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Itinerary: Travels in the Image Environment
    (pp. 1-18)

    On October 16, 1909, presidents William Howard Taft of the United States and Porfirio Díaz of Mexico convened for a meeting in the borderland cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. A first for the two dignitaries, the encounter was marked with no small measure of official ceremony and speculation as rendered newsworthy, at least in part, by the mass circulation press of the day.¹ A series of information service photographs comprise a document of that diplomatic occasion, and, together, they configure a narrative trope relevant to a larger historical and theoretical picture I draw in this book....

  4. 1. Tenures of Land and Light: Casasola, Revolution, and Archive
    (pp. 19-54)

    By 1909, President Porfirio Díaz, at the autumnal age of seventy-nine, had governed Mexico like “the stern wise parent of his people” for more than thirty years, with one brief interim.¹ In the years leading to his encounter with Taft, opposition had begun to pose serious threats to his administration. A seasoned general, Díaz had had twenty years of military experience when he revolted against the Republic under Benito Juárez in 1871. Having gained the power of the presidency in 1877 and consolidated it by 1884, he certified his position, term after consecutive term, thanks not only to shady balloting...

  5. 2. Experiment in Related Form: Weston, Modotti, and the Aims of Desire
    (pp. 55-94)

    Marius de Zayas reappears at this juncture with watchwords that would have gladly animated either one of the previous two chapters. A decade after he published the extravagant speculations on photography in Alfred Stieglitz’sCamera Work, the sentence in question traveled back to Mexico City in October 1923 to serve as the epigram on printed invitations to Edward Weston’s milestone exhibition in the mezzanine gallery of Aztec Land, “a Madero Avenue tourist shop and tea salon.”¹ (The aphorism, incidentally, is to be found in neither of theCamera Workessays, so for the provisional purpose of what follows we can...

  6. 3. Metropolitan Matters: Álvarez Bravo’s Mexico City
    (pp. 95-134)

    Mexico City tested the forward-looking limits of the camera as a technology for image making, even as modern photographers, Tina Modotti and Edward Weston among them, explored the city’s immutable allusions to history, social fractures, and the complex relations between modern and traditional life in the photographic instant. A century-long resident of Mexico City, Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902–2001), made early use of the capital’s material culture—the built environment of the public streets and squares—to frame statements, suggested by the visual relationships he transformed into photographs, about the social and cultural realities of the city’s residents. In this...

  7. 4. For History, Posterity, and Art: The Borderline Claims of Boystown
    (pp. 135-166)

    To conclude, I return to the place where this book began, the Texas–Mexico border, and to the period in which the Casasola Archive became national patrimony as bestowed to the Mexican state. The 1909 photographs that depict presidents William Howard Taft and Porfirio Díaz meeting across the Ciudad Juárez–El Paso border represent an important episode of that photographic record, gifted to the Mexican government in the mid-1970s. To close with this decade is to revisit matters arising from the international transit of photographic commodities, but in ways that differ manifestly from the art-market venture of the Julian Levy...

  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 167-170)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 171-192)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-202)
  11. Index
    (pp. 203-214)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-215)