Thursday May 5, 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (artist in attendance)
Artist's Talk + Book Signing
Saturday, May 7 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Circuit Gallery at Gallery 345
345 Sorauren Avenue, Toronto, Canada
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Gallery Hours by appointment
For more information contact Claire Sykes: | 1-647-477-2487
Suburbia Mexicana: Cause and Effect
Circuit Gallery is proud to present, as a Featured Exhibition in the 2011 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, a solo exhibition of large-format work by Mexican-based photographer Alejandro Cartagena from his acclaimed project entitled Suburbia Mexicana: Cause and Effect (2006 - 2009). The exhibition features for the first time in Canada, 30 works drawn from the project's constituent parts: Urban Holes, Fragmented Cities, Lost Rivers, People of Suburbia.
Suburbia Mexicana is a documentary project deeply rooted in the local and the particular, in the artist's own experience living and working in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey. It is an ambitious and committed project that seeks to tell the complex story 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 its fast growing cities, including the environmental consequences.
Cartagena's project both nods towards and distinguishes itself from the tradition of the New Topographers in interesting and significant ways. His subjects—tract housing, inner-city vacant lots, desiccated or polluted rivers, the residents of these new developments—figure prominently, yet beyond simple documentation Cartagena is interested in symbolically foregrounding the larger picture—"The Mexican suburbs are symbolic; they represent corruption, a lack of standards in planning, and personal obsessions."
And it is through a sustained and holistic visual study that Cartagena is able to convey something of the deeper mechanisms—the ideological, political, economic, social ground—at work, in his "man-altered landscapes." Cartagena's work equally diverges from earlier New Topographic approaches in that it does not simply reject beauty or seek to coolly "aestheticize the banal." His images are aesthetically alluring and offer multiple points of resonance, reaching beyond the specific place represented and attesting to something more pervasive and palpable on a global level—greed, corruption, ecological fragility and loss—as shared issues under advanced capitalism.
Left: Alejandro Cartagena, Fragmented Cities, Santa Catarina (detail), 2008; Right: Alejandro Cartagena, Untitled Lost River #24 (detail), 2008
Alejandro Cartagena, Fragmented Cities, Apodaca, 2006
Left: Alejandro Cartagena, Couple Outside the Sun Mall in Juarez Suburb (detail), 2009; Right: Alejandro Cartagena, Untitled Lost River #22, 2008
Alejandro Cartagena, Mother with Children in Juarez Suburb, 2009
Alejandro Cartagena, Untitled Lost River #23, 2008
Alejandro Cartagena, Untitled Lost River #21, 2008
Alejandro Cartagena, Untitled Lost River #2, 2008
Alejandro Cartagena, Untitled Lost River #10, 2008
Alejandro Cartagena, Untitled Lost River #4, 2008
Alejandro Cartagena, Businesses in Newly Built Suburb in Juarez, 2009
See more works available through Circuit Gallery from Suburbia Mexicana.
Read about more about the 2010 Lost Rivers exhibition.
Artist Talk + Book Signing
Please join us on Saturday afternoon, May 7 (1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.) at Gallery 345 to hear Alejandro Cartagena talk about his project and to get your copy of his recent monograph Suburbia Mexicana, co-published by Daylight and Photolucida (2011).
The book features 36 colour plates, an Introduction by Karen Irvine, an Essay by Gerardo Montiel Klint, and an Interview by Lisa Uddin.
Alejandro Cartagena lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico. He is an artist, teacher and promoter of photography. His projects are primarily documentary based, and employ landscape and portraiture as a means to examine social, urban and environmental issues in Latin America. His work also engages with a larger history of photography by reinterpreting or rethinking the ways in which poignant issues have been addressed or represented in the past. This has widened his works´ aesthetic and conceptual approach and added layers of meaning to his complex interpretations of our society.
Cartagena's work has been exhibited and published internationally, and is in several public and private collections in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and the United States. He is the recipient of several major national grants, numerous honorable mentions and acquisition prizes in Mexico and abroad. In 2009 Cartagena won the Critical Mass Book Award, and was named one of PDN's 30 International Emerging Photographers to Watch. In 2009 Cartagena was also a finalist for the Aperture Portfolio Prize, selected as an "International Discovery" at the Houston FOTOFEST, a Hey Hot Shot Finalist, and a featured artist at the Lishui International Photography Festival in Lishui China (with a solo exhibition of Suburbia Mexicana). A monograph of Suburbia Mexicana was published earlier this year by Daylight Books and Photolucida. He is currently teaching in the Faculty of Visual Arts of the University of Nuevo León as he continues his photographic projects about the Latin American landscape and its people.
He is represented by Circuit Gallery (Toronto).
Circuit Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of the following partners and sponsors: