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Alejandro Cartagena lecture video online

LECTURE VIDEO

Learning from Latin American (Sub)Urbanism

Alejandro Cartagena

Friday, May 8, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
OCAD University
Toronto


For the past decade Alejandro Cartagena has been investigating the relationship between Mexico’s urban centres and the suburbs built around them, examining the ways in which explosive growth has altered the landscape and affected the lives of residents.

In this talk, Cartagena discusses the development of his photographic projects including Suburbia Mexicana, Landscape as Bureaucracy, Carpoolers, and his latest work, Outgrowing.

Through these projects, Cartagena creatively sheds light on the complex issues surrounding the ‘ideal’ of homeownership and its recent boom in Mexico. He intimately observes many of the spaces and people involved, including buyers, public bureaucrats, and labourers. He illustrates how Mexico’s social and political context has proved to be both a benefit and a threat to many new buyers, opening up both new opportunities and challenges.

Cartagena’s work looks at the larger implications of the region’s rapid suburban expansion, from urban gentrification and inner-city ‘ghettoization,’ to the seemingly unplanned and unhampered suburban sprawl emanating from many of Mexico’s fast growing cities, and its environmental consequences.

His approach to photography is not overtly polemical; rather, he seeks to tell, from multiple points of view, the complex story of growth and development in Latin America in the context of an increasing globalization and the ongoing influence of its northern neighbour(s) and ‘North American dreams’.


BIO

Alejandro Cartagena lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico. 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 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Harry Ransom Center, Austin, the Portland Museum of Art and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He has received 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. 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 and Wallpaper. His monograph Suburbia Mexicana was published in 2011 (Daylight/Photolucida) and his latest book Carpoolers was released in 2014 (Fonca – Conaculta). He is represented by Circuit Gallery (Toronto).


The Learning from Latin American (Sub)Urbanism lecture is co-presented by CONTACT, LACAP, the Faculty of Art at OCAD University (Through the Photography Department), and Circuit Gallery. Special thanks to Shawn Micallef, Tamara Toldeo, Tara Smith, Rita Leistner, April Hickox and Sharon Switzer.

This event was held in conjunction with Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities, a CONTACT Public Installation. Curated by Sharon Switzer. Co-produced by PATTISON Onestop and Art for Commuters.

Donald Weber – 2014 Scotiabank Photography Award Finalist

Donald Weber 2014 Scotiabank Photography Award Finalist
Donald Weber 2014 Scotiabank Photography Award Finalist

Donald Weber was a finalist for the 2014 Scotiabank Photography Award. A huge honour and well deserved recognition. Congratulations Don!

Watch the video of Donald talking about his work.

Canadian Art Critic and Writer Sarah Milroy nominated Donald for the Award.

Donald Weber
Nominator’s Statement

Documentary photography is a calling that entails all the aesthetic discrimination, technical expertise, and sophisticated reading of the world demanded of artists working in the fine art tradition. Added to this, however, is the added pressure of making pictures out in the world, often under conditions of threat. It’s a dance with fate: the operations of chance, of light judged on the fly, the threat of equipment failure, the chance nature of human encounter and connection, the sometimes steep requirements for personal courage, and the need for instinct that can never be quantified or explained — all must be summoned in the moment.

Donald Weber, now 40, is one of Canada’s most compelling practitioners in the field of documentary photography, a tradition too seldom honored in Canadian art. His insightful and piercing images of life in Russia and Eastern Europe have lifted the veil on a part of the world little known and understood in the west, his images powerfully bearing forth the vitality, violence and grim subsistence of a people burdened by the weight of a traumatic history, and stranded in a purgatorial present. Whether photographing the snow swept aftermath of Stalin’s purges, or the now-stilled landscapes of the western Ukraine and Siberia that were once the site of political atrocities, Weber captures the eeriness of a present haunted by the past. As we see in the faces of his urban denizens, gang members, and marauding police, the use of force has become a way of life, grimly accepted by its victims and exalted by its perpetrators.

In a similar vein, Weber has explored the vestigial curse of environmental disaster. In the long shadow of Chernobyl, he pursued connection with the human beings left in the wake of the 1986 explosion, either as survivors of the medical afflictions caused by radiation, or as scavengers reduced to rubbish picking in closed contamination areas. (More recently, he has documented the aftermath of the Fukushima explosion.) The sense prevails of people as subject to historical forces beyond their control, whether he is photographing a child living in the Chernobyl exclusion zone or an Inuk negotiating his abrupt cultural transition into the digital 21st century. Through Weber’s lens, poverty, the forces of oppression and the machinations of power are seen to grind the human subject in their gears.

In this regard, his most recent series of photographs, titled War Sand, serves as a solemn coda. The sands of the Normandy beaches are said to be eight percent shrapnel, metal exploded in combat and then corroded by time and the constant ministrations of the ocean tides. Added to this is its grim corollary: a portion of human remains, bone that has been crushed and crumbled to near powder-like consistency. Through the use of microscopic photography and with a kind of forensic inquisitiveness and existential wondering, Weber brings us close to these fragments, offering us, too, the longer view: the eerie hush of the beachhead and the expressionless features of the sea and sky, edged in grasses. The series invites a contemplation of the endless quiet that lies beyond the flare of bold historical events, offering a cautionary tale of the hubris of humankind.

– Sarah Milroy