Starting this week, photographs by Latin American and Caribbean artists will flood the streets of the South Bronx. The Latin American Foto Festival, organized by the Bronx Documentary Center (BDC), usually takes place partly indoors, with exhibitions in the center’s own galleries and at other spaces currently closed. This year, in order to limit the spread of coronavirus, the works will be on view exclusively as large-scale, outdoor banners and projections on sidewalks, community gardens, and school exteriors throughout the Melrose neighborhood.
Curated by Michael Kamber and Cynthia Rivera, the third annual edition of the festival features work by artists who focus on social issues in the region — such as Puerto Rican photographer Adriana Parilla, whose images reflect on her Afro-Latinx identity; Eric Allende, co-founder of the Chilean documentary agency Migrar Photo, who has chronicled the nation’s recent uprisings; and Adriana Loureiro Fernández, a Venezuelan photojournalist capturing moments of pain and beauty in a country rocked by poverty and violence.
More than half of the Bronx population is of Hispanic or Latinx origin, and the exhibition’s unconventional urban format allows for a deep engagement and dialogues between the artists and their surroundings.
Works from Colombian photographer Jorge Panchoaga’s series “Detrás de la Montaña” (“Behind the Mountain”), for instance — a visual journey through the indigenous communities of the Cauca Valley anchored in the artist’s own Nasa roots — will be projected on the corner of 151st Street and Courtlandt Avenue. Meanwhile, Luján Agusti’s painterly portraits of the clowns of Veracruz, Mexico, from her “Payasos de Coatepec” project, will be installed on a parking lot fence; the 18-member COVID LATAM collective, dedicated to documenting the virus’ impact in Latin America, will show their work at the Melrose Playground.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the BDC will host a series of online panel discussions, tours, and virtual workshops. Perhaps most importantly, however, the works themselves will be seen in person by thousands of local residents, a compelling proposal that takes photography away from the white walls and melds art and life.
The 3rd Annual Latin American Foto Festival continues through August 2 in the South Bronx, NY; a map noting the location of each participating artist’s work can be found here. After the show closes, it will be available as an online exhibition on the BDC’s website.