Edel Assanti is proud to present an unprecedented survey of contemporary photography by nine established and emergent Latin American artists. Curated by Evening Standard photography critic Sue Steward, Between Two Worlds is Edel Assanti’s second exhibition establishing a platform in London for contemporary art from the region.
Between Two Worlds explores the juxtaposition of reality and fantasy commonplace in everyday existence and culture throughout Latin America. Split over two floors, the exhibition divides the work into these distinct categories. The varied practices of the nine artists exhibited present a heady mix of poignant and unpredictable images, moving black and white portraits, penetrating cartoon-like fantasy and dashes of magical realism.
Journeying across South and Central America, the first floor of the exhibition bears witness to the daily hardships of rural Argentina, the chaotic mêlée of urban life in industrial Monterrey, culminating in the youthful abandon of inner city Lima. Alessandra’s Sanguinetti’s critically acclaimed series “On the Sixth Day” is shot at ground level, expressing greater empathy with the arduous existence of Argentina’s livestock than with humankind. Framed by the window of his taxicab, Oscar Fernando Gómez Rodríguez’s rapid-fire images offer a sincere, unfiltered vision of day-to-day street life in Mexico. Comparable in pace and intensity, Camila Rodrigo’s “Simulacro” series meanders through Lima’s backstreets and underground party scene, sharing in the camaraderie of the photographer’s social circle. Dramatically changing the pace of the exhibition, the mixture of intimate portraiture and pensive still life photography of Adriana Lestido’s “Mothers and Daughters” series is quietly reflective and emotionally charged.
The high gloss imagery on the exhibition’s second floor projects a radically contrasting, colour-saturated dreamscape. Marcos Lopez’s hyperrealist image of the Carnicera looms imposingly tall over the viewer, at once terrifying and comically absurd. Byron Marmol’s photographs provide unique insight into the “cosplayers” of Guatemala: hordes of Latino youths live out collective fantasies by dressing up and adopting the identities of their Japanese Manga alter egos. Glaring from behind the colorful mask of the Luchadore, Juan Pablo Echeverri’s “Mucho Macho” series employs probing cumulative self-portraits to raise questions of identity and sexuality in contemporary Latin American culture. Finally, the ghostly, cerebral imagery of Edouard Fraipont conjures altogether more nightmarish scenarios. Completed during his 2007 UK residency, these photographs explore the boundaries between the material and the ethereal, lucidity and the subconscious realm of dreams.
Straddling the otherwise clearly defined boundaries of fantasy and reality, Dulce Pinzón’s acclaimed series “The Real Story of the Superheroes” celebrates the exploits of Mexican migrant workers in New York. Pinzón transforms her actual subjects into famous comic book superheroes, empowered in their accentuated roles against the backdrop of their everyday work environments. Neither real nor truly fictitious, these iconic images employ the surreal lexicon of fantasy in order to celebrate the path forged by the ordinary individual in the familiar world.
Between Two Worlds offers a pinhole viewpoint onto the vast landscape of Latin American photography. The photographers presented in the exhibition offer a diverse and challenging fusion of disparate heritage, technical approaches and conceptual stances. Ranging from institutionally acclaimed artists to the most prominent emergent talent, Edel Assanti and Sue Steward aspire to open new audiences to a geography that is as rich in artistic innovation as it is in cultural identity.
Sue Steward has a diverse background as a Photo-Editor for book, magazines and broad-sheet newspapers. She is the Photography Critic for The Evening Standard and for BBC Radio2’s Arts Magazine with Claudia Winkleman. She is also a regular reviewer for BBC Radio3’s “World Routes.” She writes for and cofounded the international arts website, theartsdesk.com and for the leading broadsheets including The Telegraph, Observer and The Independent, as well as specialist magazines, the BJP, Eye, Wire. She has written essays for many exhibition catalogues, including the 2011 Prix Pictet book on the theme of “Growth,” as well as the Festival catalogue for the current FORMAT11 Festival. She is currently preparing an exhibition in London’s SW1 Gallery, of young, contemporary Omani Photography.