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Argentine, Mexican, and Guatemalan Photography

Argentine, Mexican, and Guatemalan Photography: Feminist, Queer, and Post-Masculinist Perspectives

David William Foster
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    Argentine, Mexican, and Guatemalan Photography
    Book Description:

    One of the important cultural responses to political and sociohistorical events in Latin America is a resurgence of urban photography, which typically blends high art and social documentary. But unlike other forms of cultural production in Latin America, photography has received relatively little sustained critical analysis. This pioneering book offers one of the first in-depth investigations of the complex and extensive history of gendered perspectives in Latin American photography through studies of works from Argentina, Mexico, and Guatemala.David William Foster examines the work of photographers ranging from the internationally acclaimed artists Graciela Iturbide, Pedro Meyer, and Marcos López to significant photographers whose work is largely unknown to English-speaking audiences. He grounds his essays in four interlocking areas of research: the experience of human life in urban environments, the feminist matrix and gendered cultural production, Jewish cultural production, and the ideological principles of cultural works and the connections between the works and the sociopolitical and historical contexts in which they were created. Foster reveals how gender-marked photography has contributed to the discourse surrounding the project of redemocratization in Argentina and Guatemala, as well as how it has illuminated human rights abuses in both countries. He also traces photography's contributions to the evolution away from the masculinist-dominated post–1910 Revolution ideology in Mexico. This research convincingly demonstrates that Latin American photography merits the high level of respect that is routinely accorded to more canonical forms of cultural production.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-76833-8
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xx)
  4. 1 DREAMING IN FEMININE Grete Stern’s Photomontages and the Parody of Psychoanalysis
    (pp. 1-17)

    I would like to propose that the motivating semiotic principle behind Grete Stern’s photomontages is the need to create a language for women’s dreams; this language may be, in the first place, sympathetic toward repressed and oppressed women, and in the second place, critical of the psychoanalytic project with regard to women’s experiences.

    Stern’sSueñoswas published at a time when there was still a considerable amount of interest in the Freudian concept of dreams,¹ and Stern, who was born in Germany in 1904 and worked in Argentina from 1936 until the late 1990s (she died in Germany in late...

  5. 2 ANNEMARIE HEINRICH Photography, Women’s Bodies, and Semiotic Excess
    (pp. 18-37)

    With the death of Annemarie Heinrich in Buenos Aires in late 2005 (she was born in Germany in 1912 and came to Argentina with her parents in 1926), Latin America lost one of the master artists of twentieth-century photography. Heinrich’s death signaled also the disappearance of a role played by an important subset of women, often immigrant women, and often women of Jewish origin, in Latin American photography, especially in Argentina and Brazil. The four photographers I have in mind are the German-born Grete Stern (1904–1999), Gisèle Freund (1912–2000), and Annemarie Heinrich, and the German-Swiss Hildegard Rosenthal (1913...

    (pp. 38-46)

    The phenomenon of the whore and female prostitutes during the early years of the twentieth century in Mexico intersects with two features central to the project of modernity: the systematic organization of business and the generalized exploitation of women. Prostitution and the generalized exploitation of women stretch back to times immemorial, but there can be little doubt that the social outburst of modernity could hardly exclude, as in everything, these two universal phenomena. If prostitution depended on the overdetermined eroticization of the female body, the culture of modernity—modernism, in a word—provided the cultural practices to stimulate this excess...

  7. 4 BUENOS AIRES AND WOMEN IN CRISIS The Photography of Silvina Frydlewsky
    (pp. 47-62)

    I would like in this chapter to examine the photography by Silvina Frydlewsky included inCrisis in Buenos Aires: Women Bearing Witness, with the goal of providing interpretive comments for what I consider the most eloquent of the thirty images. There are also eighteen poems, all signed by Argentine women poets, included alongside these visual images. An important inaugural image is part of the cover of the book. This image, taken in the Café Tortoni, is subsequently paired with a poem, and I will discuss the poem below. Located on the Avenida de Mayo near the Avenida 9 de Julio...

  8. 5 GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS Daniela Rossell’s Ricas Y famosas
    (pp. 63-71)

    One of the most interesting Mexican imprints of 2002 was Daniela Rossell’s notebooks of photographs,Ricas y famosas(Rich and famous women). A note that precedes them reads, in Spanish with an English translation: “Las siguientes imágenes muestran escenarios reales. Los sujetos fotografi ados están representándose a sí mismos. Cualquier semejanza con la realidad no es una circunstancia” (no pag.).¹ This trope, involving a concluding litotes of the standard disclaimer of fiction, introduces approximately fifty high-density color images of the rich and famous women of Mexico City (a few men are featured, without explanation). These women inhabit—and rule over...

  9. 6 PEDRO MEYER Constructing Masculinities, Constructing Photography
    (pp. 72-83)

    Pedro Meyer, of German-Jewish descent, was born in Madrid in 1935. He is, at present, one of the most esteemed photographers of Mexico and Latin America. Breaking with a long tradition—passionately defended by masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson—of photography as strictly and objectively documental in nature, Meyer, like his American counterpart Joel-Peter Witkin or the Argentine Marcos López (see chapter 10, on López, in this volume), sees in a photograph’s composition and frame an open field for an intense semiotic elaboration of the image.

    To this end, the camera’s eye, far from being an ascetic observer of human...

  10. 7 DISCOVERING THE MALE BODY Marcos Zimmermann’s Desnudos sudamericanos
    (pp. 84-89)

    The female body has long been photographed in the nude as part of an abiding tradition of the fetishizing of her body by the masculinist gaze of the camera, a gaze that wanders all over the erotic map in the many ways, the many perspectives, the many close-ups available to imagining the female body. There is now some tradition of a lesbian photographic gaze at the female body: the work of Annie Leibovitz comes immediately to mind, especially with regard to her highly controversial dossier on Susan Sontag and her dying body.

    In the case of male nudes, while there...

    (pp. 90-105)

    Juchitán has had the good fortune to maintain its integrity as a Zapotecan city, while at the same time taking advantage of the opportunities the outside world has provided to it. This is in no way a common occurrence in Mexico or anywhere else in Latin America among the countries that have considerable indigenous populations (Royce 203).

    “The women of Juchitán”: hardly any other phrase in Mexican culture—at least feminine/feminist culture—enjoys greater resonance than this one has. The phrase conjures up images of the so-called profound Mexico, of a Mexican Other that, many would insist, is threatened with...

  12. 9 GUILLE AND BELINDA A Protolesbian Arcadian Romance
    (pp. 106-113)

    The dossier of photographs by Alessandra Sanguinetti entitledLas aventuras de Guille y Belinda y el enigmático significado de sus sueños(2007; The adventures of Guille and Belinda and the enigmatic meaning of their dreams),¹ on the two young female playmates Guillermina (shortened to the sexually ambiguous Guille; Guillermina is the feminine form of the male name Guillermo) and Belinda, is, at the very least, a protolesbian romance story.² It is a romance story set in the provincial Argentine heartland, legendarily the Arcadian paradise of Argentine national and Creole/nativist values, and the stronghold of the paradigm of heteronormative values as...

    (pp. 114-127)

    The photography of the Argentine Marcos López has attracted enormous international attention. Working in sometimes garish colors (his prints routinely include hand coloring), López mixes a parody of postmodern commercial advertising with an acerbic critique of the kitschy detritus of contemporary globalized daily life, especially in its urban Argentine version (for general characterizations of López’s photography, see the chapter on him in myUrban Photography in Argentina).Whether focusing on specific commercial products, often ones that are icons of modern living like Coca-Cola, or on patriotic and quasi-patriotic symbols (the Argentine flag, Che Guevara, respectively), López relies on his audience...

    (pp. 128-138)

    Soap operas in Mexico,¹ especially the vast programming undertaken by Televisa, which dominates the Mexican market and exports its products extensively, have replaced film as the mirror of a hegemonic social ideology in that country.² The great chroniclers of Mexico City, Carlos Monsiváis and Carlos Bonfil, maintained, with considerable eloquence and a persuasive documentation, that Mexicans during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, following the Mexican Revolution of the second decade of the twentieth century that created contemporary Mexico, went to the movies to learn how to live and love as good citizens. Imposing a rigid code of morality, unswerving...

    (pp. 139-152)

    One of the historic uses of photography has been the documentation of death, beginning with yellow journalism’s publication of so-called “crime scenes” and including photography as an instrument of forensic investigation: in addition to the bibliography of professional autopsy photography, one can recall the significant work of Weegee (pseud. Arthur Fellig), who often made it to New York crime scenes with his camera ahead of the police and published iconic books of images of death and mayhem. Also of importance has been the use of photography, from its earliest beginnings, in medical research. John Harley Warner and James M. Edmonson’s...

  16. 13 DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY AS GENDER TESTIMONY Daniel Hernández-Salazar’s So That All Shall Know
    (pp. 153-164)

    I want to close this study by shifting the emphasis away from the Argentina-Mexico axis that has prevailed throughout. The considerable amount of gender-marked photography in Latin America has made it impossible for an overarching examination of the pertinent production from all countries, especially in view of the major goal of examining selected texts in some detail. However, the human-rights-oriented photography of Daniel Hernández-Salazar, involving a crisis of masculinity as the consequence of the countrywide repression in Guatemala during the violence of the 1980s, places his work in a directly complementary relationship to that of Helen Zout. Moreover, Hernández-Salazar’s photography...

  17. NOTES
    (pp. 165-180)
    (pp. 181-194)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 195-197)