The fifth Annual Latin American Foto Festival (LAFF), organized by The Bronx Documentary Center (BDC), features large-scale photographs by both emerging and established, award-winning photographers from Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, El Salvador and more. Displayed throughout the South Bronx’s Melrose neighborhood, the long-term works portray themes of family, memory, culture, and other social issues. The festival will run until July 31, 2022.
Yael Martínez & Sergio Ortiz Borbolla, Looking For Hope At The End Of The Road
Honduras and Mexico
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people flee violence and insecurity in Central and South Americas, traveling by train, bus, and foot to reach the United States. Many end up expelled or blocked at the USA-Mexico border, stranded in some of the most dangerous areas of Mexico where they become targets for kidnapping, assault, and extortion. Over the past two years, Mexican photographer Yael Martínez and filmmaker Sergio Ortiz Borbolla have spent time along the migration route between Honduras, Mexico, and the United States to meet with people who are taking extreme risks to achieve their dream of a better life in a safe place. The culmination is their project Looking for Hope at the End of the Road.
Jose Cabezas, Danzantes De La Historia
Jose Cabezas has been researching and creating a visual representation of the tradition of the Los Historiantes dance in El Salvador for several years. Los Historiantes is a tradition more than 300 years old, born from the hybridization of two cultures; the encounter of these two worlds generated new traditions that reflected the ability of the conqueror to subdue the conquered through art and religion. The resistance of the conquered was expressed by overturning these imposed traditions through creativity and pragmatism, thus continuing to pray to the old gods camouflaged in the wooden carcasses of the Catholic saints. The tradition is deeply rooted in the rituals of the people who practice it, their families and relatives. Despite dictatorships, wars, natural phenomena and plagues, the El Salvadorian people have kept the tradition alive and have adapted it to the present day to ensure it survives.
Héctor Guerrero, Volcano Land
Mexico is home to more than 3,000 volcanoes, 14 of which are regularly active. Two of these, the 12,500-meter-high Colima volcano and the 17,800-meter-high Popocatépetl volcano, are located along the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, a mountainous expanse in the south-central part of the country that stretches more than 600 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. In recent years, eruptions have forced the evacuation of thousands of people to nearby cities. But local people will not move as they were born in these communities and have lived their entire lives with the volcanoes nearby. Héctor Guerrero has photographically documented the Mexican volcanoes, the dangers they pose, and the diversity of the land and culture that surrounds them. The culmination of these images, titled Volcano Land, not only takes us to tropical beaches, lush forests, and glacial streams, but also captures the poverty and violence that threaten some local populations more than lava or ash.
Tamara Merino, Isolated Soul
Chilean photographer Tamara Merino’s project Isolated Soul evokes a deep emotional state of nostalgia and profound melancholy, known In Portuguese/Brazilian as “saudade.” The term translates as the longing for something that is absent or someone who one loves. The word was became part of the everyday language of the four million African people who were captured and forced into slavery, the very same who today shape the Afro-Brazilian community. This constant feeling of saudade is a poetic way to describe missing one’s homeland. It is the very same propelling sentiment that kept that community alive for so many centuries, during sadness and torture. The feeling was so strong, it marked the identity of complete generations. It has been transmitted almost as if it were genetic, generation after generation, into the present day.
Alejandro Olivares, Living Periphery
For more than 10 years Alejandro Olivares lived with and photographed the life of adolescents on the outskirts of Santiago, Chile—her hometown. This intimate documentary-type essay showcases the hidden reality of young people suffering through the early stages of their contact with violence, drugs, loneliness, and social exclusion. This project is immersed in a neglected, forgotten world, where postal and other basic service employees are banned from entering. It goes beyond poverty and consists of vast ghettos in the farthest corners of Santiago. Olivares’ photos represent a personal puzzle about fragmented social imagery—the images reflect the beauty of a hostile and shocking world seen through the eyes of those who look at it from the other side of the street. It is here where photography moves from the personal to the public realm, creating evidence of a disputed territory.
Paola Paredes, Skin Deep
Skin Deep is an interactive photographic experience. It presents fifteen stories, representing diverse sexualities and gender identities of the queer community in Ecuador. Merging tactile interaction with digital platforms/technology, the images not only break with the traditional dynamics of museum exhibitions and visual arts, but also aim to tear aside social stereotypes, and show a community that is ethnically, economically, generationally and emotionally diverse. The images also reject the limited definition of gender or sexuality as static or innate and instead recognizes gender and sexuality as something fluid, built by each individual throughout their lifetime as they understand and consolidate their own identity. Within the experience the viewer becomes a participant who, through the act of touching and ‘tearing open’ the image, uncovers the depth of each story. Skin Deep transgresses and questions how we interact with art; its innovative narrative creates a unique, playful, and individual experience.
Sofía Torres Prida, Dreams And Glory
Dreams and Glory documents the Dominican Republic’s top baseball athletes. It visually represents the lives of these players as part of the sport’s history, but it is chronicled through an unconventional perspective. Prida documented 34 of the most historically important athletes,from Osvaldo Virgil, the first to play in the Major League Baseball in 1956; to retired players like David Ortiz; and still active potential Hall of Famers like Albert Pujols. The series portrays the players’ experiences from a young age while immersed in Dominican culture during training, hardships of migration, and challenges to form a family in a multicultural environment. It also depicts how they navigated the integration of teams with colleagues from all over the world and marks the importance of playing a sport that overcomes language barriers and political borders.
Annie Y. Saldaña, Casitas
Casitas is a long-term photography project that documents Puerto Ricans who live in wooden homes in the mountainous areas of the island. The series aims to give viewers a look into the current living conditions of these citizens, by collecting oral histories and learning about the residents, their families, and the challenges they have to overcome in the face of climate change, unstable power service, limited economic support, and government inefficiency.
Collective Project produced by Jorge Panchoaga, Imaginar EL Fuego De La Memoria
Colombia, Panamá, Guatemala, Bolivia, Uruguay
“Imagining the fire of memory” is a teaching method derived from Kalabongo, a photography project conducted in San Basilio de Palenque, with the goal to share narrative and visual skills with Afro communities in different parts of Latin America. Additionally, it also seeks to align more closely with the relationship between memory, oral tradition and imagination. For a long time writing was considered the only valid way to record any kind of knowledge, but many cultures have preserved their knowledge and traditions through memory and oral tradition. It’s important to recognize that difference and nurture and promote it because every time a story is told our imagination is activated, and the telling and retelling of stories constantly evolves.