Toronto specializing in contemporary photography

Alejandro Cartagena: Accumulations

Alejandro Cartagena
Alejandro Cartagena, Accumulations No. 4 (Juarez VI), 2018


New solo show by the Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena a bold departure

Toronto, ON, March 26, 2018Circuit Gallery is pleased to present Accumulations, a solo exhibition of new work by Mexican artist Alejandro Cartagena.

Accumulations is a contemplation on and response to his acclaimed Suburbia Mexicana, which sought to tell visually the complex story of rapid growth in and around his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, looking at the causes and effects of unhampered and unplanned development on the people and the landscape, including the environmental consequences.

Accumulations is a bold departure, formally, from Cartagena’s previous work. The culmination of years of research and thinking about how to picture adequately the important issues it explored.

The exhibition features two large abstracted monochromatic circular installations that are comprised of hundreds of small individual photographs Cartagena took of the sky. These photos were taken from his roof when the air quality officially registered as ‘bad’. They are arranged concentrically and held in place with magnets. There are also 10 new photomontage works—the source material for which are photographs from Suburbia Mexicana—cut-up, reassembled and likewise held in place with magnets.

For those who are familiar with the undeniably exquisite and powerful photographs that make up Suburbia Mexicana, Cartagena’s move in the suite of new photomontages, can at first blush, appear to be a destructive if not nihilistic move or breakdown—literally cutting up his own work, rearranging and reconfiguring key images—but upon reflection this move makes sense and fits in terms of both his approach to documentary photography and his more recent trajectory and focus on the possibilities of the photobook.

Cartagena’s approach to documentary has always been multi-faceted—a bit cubist—coming at his subject from all angles while insisting on maintaining the complexity of the narrative in his efforts to raise awareness of the larger interrelated issues confronting Mexico and his home city of Monterrey in relation to irresponsible and unsustainable development, and be a catalyst for a better future for the region’s inhabitants.

This new work however does something else for Cartagena—it is an immediate and visceral commentary or self-reflexive critique of his earlier work. At the same time Accumulations is a painful and passionate expression of outrage, albeit beautifully and articulately rendered.

Alejandro Cartagena lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico. His projects are primarily documentary based and employ landscape and portraiture to examine social, urban, and environmental issues in Latin America.

Cartagena’s work has been exhibited internationally and is in public and private collections in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and the United States, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Cartagena has published several award winning photobooks. His titles include Santa Barbara Shame on US (Skinnerboox, 2017), A Guide to Infrastructure and Corruption (The Velvet Cell, 2017), Rivers of Power (Newwer, 2016), Santa Barbara Return Jobs to US (Skinnerboox, 2016), Before the War (self-published, 2015), Carpoolers (self-published/FONCA 2014), and Suburbia Mexicana (Daylight/Photolucida 2011).

He is the recipient of several major national grants, numerous honorable mentions and acquisition prizes in Mexico and abroad including the Photolucida Critical Mass Book Award, the Lente Latino award in Chile, and the Premio IILA-Fotografia 2012 award in Rome. He has been named a FOAM Magazine “Talent” and one of PDN’s 30 “International Emerging Photographers To Watch”. He has also been a finalist for the Aperture Portfolio Award and has been nominated for the Santa Fe Photography Prize, the Prix Pictet, the Photoespaña Descubrimientos Award, and the FOAM Paul Huff Award.

Cartagena’s work has been published internationally in magazines such as Newsweek, The New York Times Lens blog, Nowness, Domus, The Financial Times, View, The Guardian, le Monde, PDN, The New Yorker, The Independent, Monocle, Maclean’s, and Wallpaper.

Gallery Page: Alejandro Cartagena
Artist Website: Alejandro Cartagena

Alejandro Cartagena


March 29 – April 21, 2018
Circuit Gallery @ Prefix ICA
401 Richmond Street West, Suite 124
Toronto, ON, M6R 2G5
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Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 5 PM

Alejandro Cartagena, Accumulations
Alejandro Cartagena, Accumulations No. 11 (Suburban Sky, 9:00 a.m., 101-150 IMECA, MAM), 2018

Visit Circuit Gallery for more information and to see more images:

Circuit Gallery specializes in contemporary photography. Established in 2008 by Susana Reisman and Claire Sykes, the Toronto based commercial gallery represents both emerging and established Canadian and international artists.


Phone: 647-477-2487


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