by Adriana Teresa
Idurre Alonso is a Spanish curator in contemporary Latin American art currently based in Los Angeles, California. Ms. Alonso studied Art History at Basque Country University, Spain. In 2001 she started to work at the Museum of Latin American Art (molaa) in Long Beach. Recently, she curated for MoLAA Changing the Focus. Latin American Photography (1990-2005) a group exhibition based on her postgraduate research.
The Museum of Latin American Art (molaa) was founded in 1996 in Long Beach, California. molaa is the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art. Molaa’s focus is on strengthening its position as a multidisciplinary institution providing a cross-cultural dialogue between artists, the scholarly community and the general public.
AT: What is contemporary Latin American Photography today?
IA: Since photography in Latin America encompasses all types of aesthetics including documentary, conceptual and experimental formats, among others, heterogeneity is probably its only unifying element. What is clear to me is that Latin American photography moves in multiple ways; in some instances the works reflect the contextual realities of their site production while in others they reference global issues. Certainly Latin American Photography today does have a multicultural character and moves beyond local artistic circuits.
AT: What do you look for in a photograph?
IA: A balance between different elements such as a well designed aesthetic style that goes accordingly with well-conceived and innovative conceptual ideas.
AT: What do you look for in an artist?
IA: I think it is import for an artist to have a body of works that maintains a significant artistic quality and that shows innovative approaches to the medium.
AT: What is the goal of your Institution in regards to Latin American Photography? What is your focus?
IA: As we do with the rest of the artistic genres, molaa wants to bring a better understanding of Latin American photography to our audience. In February we opened Changing the Focus: Latin American Photography 1990-2005 our first major exhibition on photography. This exhibition has been very well received by the public and has generated a very significant interest on the media and other artistic institutions. At the same time, since our institution has only been collecting photography for the past four years, we are making a great effort to develop our photography collection, putting a special attention on emerging artists, although we are also trying to incorporate well established artists, we recently received a donation of a photograph by Carlos Garaicoa, for example.
AT: What parameters would you like to transcend?
IA: I think that it is important that we emphasize the significance, the innovative character and the achievements of Latin American photography within the history of photography. It is also important to distance from any stereotypical view of Latin American photography that may persist; photography from Latin America has a vital place in the international art scene today.
MIGUEL ALVEAR, Curated by Idurre Alonso
Miguel Alvear, born in Ecuador in 1964, studied at the Institut des Arts de Diffusion in Belgium and the San Francisco Art Institute in California. In his work, the artist works with motifs that originate from the pop culture mixing popular icons with historical, mythological, and art historical examples. Alvear’s work has been featured at notable international art spaces, such as Galería DPM, Guayaquil, Ecuador; Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires; and Instituto Itaú Cultural, Sao Paulo, Brazil; as well as the 9th Havana Biennial (2006).
I am the other Series
Miguel Alvear draws from racial and social stereotypes, clichés and popular iconography to initiate a conversation about identity, race and class distinctions in Ecuador. His Yo soy el otro and Yo soy la otra are two series of 16 photographs based on the illustration of Joaquín Pinto, Ecuadorian folk artist of the 19th century, that examine the four state-recognized racial groups: white, indigenous, mestizo, and black. He plays with the state-recognized categories by disguising each racial group in the stereotyped attire of their culture and that of the other three, critically deconstructing and challenging established notions of race and social constructions.
These works contain a playful element—since the portraits resemble small toys, the spectator is the one who decides which one is the “real” look corresponding to each person, thus challenging the viewer with his/her own prejudices.
Top: Miguel Alvear (Ecuador, b. 1964) Yo soy el otro / I Am the Other One (male), 2002 photograph, 7 x 7 in. each— Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach Gift of the artist, M.2009.153
Bottom: Miguel Alvear (Ecuador, b. 1964) Yo soy la otra / I am the Other One (female), 2004 —Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach Gift of the artist, M.2009.154
Originally published on the New York Photo Festival blog