Past and Present of the Body
16 Voices of Contemporary Photography.

I would venture to think that Anon (anonymous),
who wrote so many poems without signing them,
was often a woman.

Virginia Woolf. A Room of One’s Own (1929).

© Carlotta Boettcher. Gay Parade III. Civic Center “San Francisco Urban Portraits” series. 1972-1978.
H. 17.20 x W. 22.24 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Catalog of Cuban Women Photographers.

The explicit subjectivity in contemporary art has become for some time now a kind of disproportionate activity where so many signs of fictitious realities coexist that it becomes more complex to translate the coordinates of access to the territory of identity. However, it is there where the body is perhaps the primary way to understand the nature, transience, and changeability of its form and meaning. Between matter and image, state and cartography, we metaphorically integrate ourselves into the landscape of the body. In that space, multiple perceptions occur; for some people, it is a gentle experience of reconciliation and even recognition of their identity and personality. For others, this experience becomes a state of dissatisfaction, feeling trapped in a mass that represents the absence of meaning or the demands of the ideal form.

In appearance, the body is perhaps a term that could contain many more definitions, which give meaning to a system of categories that mutually imply each other, generating a complex matrix to approach. That is why to pave the way, I propose to do it from the perspective of individual processes and collective phenomenons, in order to explore from the practice of contemporary photography, the current effects of this perceptive accentuation linked to the categorization of the body, which has become a reality that can no longer be summarized to the definitions of the past.

In this way, the redundancy, the theatrical, the ludic, and the fanciful of art, would pass to another plane of importance. With the contemporary entrance of the photographic documentation of the body, as a visual, narrative, and creative method.  Even more as an exercise of qualitative research capable of referring to its form as the condition of its own architecture and geography. In turn, as the ideal structure to analyze the factors that affect the corporeal and the imaginary in each person. From this dimension, the usefulness of photography could inspire the creation of new critical and motivating discourses, the emergence of practices that promote learning, and the reading of the body as support of reality and illusion, or as a text in itself, where we reflect on its inner and outer condition, along with the projections that society exerts on it.

In the world of art and photography, we know the body was rediscovered to reflect on its functioning, meaning, and appearance, seeking to understand it or turn it into art by using it as a concept and support for the creation of autonomous and fictitious characters, but with a conscious influence, as is the case of the creators Cindy Sherman, Ana Mendieta and Marina Abramovic.

© Carlotta Boettcher. Anti-Anita Bryan Human Rights March. Market Street “San Francisco Urban Portraits” series. 1972-1978.
H. 11 x W. 18.13 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Catalog of Cuban Women Photographers.

© Carlotta Boettcher. Man in Mask. 17th Street. Private Residence “San Francisco Urban Portraits” series. 1972-1978.
H. 11 x W. 16.77 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Catalog of Cuban Women Photographers.

Their proposals often coexist a lesson of language and narration from the point of view that often exceeds social, moral, religious, ethnic, political, and sexual limits. A private and ceremonial character of individuality predominates and a remarkable exploration of the introspection of the subject through scenes where the feminine condition and the changes to which the body can be subjected in the contemporary world seem the endless beginning of a descriptive journey so that as spectators or voyeurs, we can imagine the variables of a possible story.

On the other hand, there is another space in photography where the body acquires a gesticulation, a dynamic and subjective expression based on the experiences that some authors have with themselves or with their immediate environment. Their works can become uncomfortable due to the morbid, complex, and critical approach of their images. The deeply personal and subversive stories of authors such as Nan Goldin, Sally Mann, and Mary Ellen Mark, to name a few, emerge from these mutual interactions.

Other logics cross the body from visual constructions that portray -as opposed to the traditional scheme of documentation- the everyday life of some people marginalized by society, managing to uncover the complexities of the physical body and the problems linked to human rights, by capturing these individualities in contexts where their state of vulnerability is prioritized. In this case, it is worth remembering exemplary names such as Diane Arbus, Lynsey Addario, Shirin Neshat, Graciela Iturbide, and Paz Errázuriz.

In the context of this scale of valuing the body, the exhibition Past and present of the body, 16 voices of contemporary photography, a photography exhibition organized by the Fuentes Angarita Collection, in association with the JW Marriott Marquis and as part of the first WOPHA Congress: Women, Photography, and Feminisms, to be held at the Pérez Art Museum Miami from November 18 to 19, 2021.

By its nature, WOPHA Congress is constituted as a place of global openness inspired by the values of diversity and equal rights for women photographers, curators, historians, scholars, and thinkers to discuss ideas and perspectives around the challenges surrounding women’s representation in art and photography. According to this reality, Fuentes Angarita Collection is an organization that questions itself and continues to express its vision through the actions generated by its lines of research. With the creation of Past and present of the body, 16 voices of contemporary photography in the distinguished spaces of the JW Marriott Marquis Miami, the collection wants to contribute to the scope of WOPHA Congress. In this sense, the exhibition is an operative of hope that brings together photographers who identify as women (e.g. cis, trans and intersex), non-binary artists, and other identities that transit, feel, or experience the feminine universe in order to reflect and visualize the issues and stories contained in their images.

The powerful integration of this collective of female photographers from different countries, generations, genders, and gender identities consolidates a formal and conceptual mix that addresses a wide field of relationships and variables, operating as an alternative displacement to oppressive social norms, codes, and discriminatory fractions that impact the intergroup social behavior and by default in the expanded notions of female identity.

In accordance with the cardinal points of the circumstances and qualities of this log, the discourses that make up the exhibition are geared through photographer Carlotta Boettcher and artists Miru Kim and Nayarí Castillo, whom the Fuentes Angarita Collection represents. The selection also incorporates the participation of an outstanding group of guest photographers: Claudia Toledo, Clotilde Petrosino, Desireé De Stefano, Elise Corten, Erika Larsen, Gabo Caruso, Karoliina Kase, Kristen Joy Emack, María José Juncos, Mirjana Vrbaški, Morganna Magee, Reme Campos and Tania Bohórquez.

In most cases, their photographs contain a sensitive look at people’s lives through a sort of partial axis that examines the stereotypes and roles to which society subjects us. In a way, their works promote the debate on the usefulness and validity of concepts such as man, woman, and gender. They examine the expectations of each society, or the ethnic and cultural group to which one belongs, and what is expected of individual and public behavior according to the sex assigned at birth. The artists organize and promote other ways of seeing the world and propose a revision of the iconography of the body from the female photographic gaze to analyze the unequal and unfair manner in which society behaves toward some people because of their appearance, sex, gender, or gender identity.

On the other hand, some readings bring with them the confluence of memory and the present, linking high points: the heroic acts of silenced women, racial justice, the drama of migration caused by dictatorships, the importance of the lives of Afro-descendants, attempts to recover the respect and value of indigenous cultures, the ghost of violence suffered by women and girls, labels understood as a form of abuse, injustice, and disrespect towards teenagers, immigrants, and refugees as well as the non-visualization of the female presence in the different spheres of society.

The exhibition also includes the documentation of topics that are not intimately associated with the domain of social sciences, but to the investigation of diverse discourses on aesthetics, but without losing sight of the forms of the body and the relationships established with the urban scale, as comparative exercises that can have a valuable interest in social behavior. Likewise, there are photographic sections that seem to be dedicated to the exploration of the human form and its poetic capacity to express meanings. They are works that investigate the systems of understanding time and the states of tension that silence can generate.

In perspective and in the face of the urgencies of a global world, the sixteen voices that make up the exhibition are well aware of the impulses and displays of the systems of power over individual and collective behavior, which often act as conditioners of a psychology of the marginal that leads people and their communities to lose sight of the scale of their own values. In this regard, it must be said that among the different aesthetic practices of the works presented, a valuable pedagogy of the social gaze predominates, which warns us about the damage that prejudices, roles, and gender stereotypes can cause in people, also alluding to the human risks generated by the experience of sexism or discrimination. It is an exhibition that opens for the visitor’s reflection, thinking about these issues from the image as a report of the body and its place in contemporary society.

 Pietro Daprano, curator.

Guest photographer © Claudia Toledo. Blanca. Portrait. Barcelona. 2019.
H. 24.6 x W. 16.42 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Clotilde Petrosino. The Queer Talks- Mira in his bedroom. 2021.
H. 23.62 x W. 15.76 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Clotilde Petrosino. The Queer Talks – Nicolò at the park. 2019.
H. 23.62 x W. 15.76 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Desireé De Stefano. Shiitake & Akira. 2019.
H. 31 x W. 20 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Desireé De Stefano. Rigoberta. 2019.
H. 31 x W. 20 inches. Courtesy of the artist

Guest photographer © Elise Corten. Mother comforting me. 2019.
H. 16 x W. 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Elise Corten. Mother reflecting. 2018.
H. 16 x W. 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Erika Larsen. Autoretrato en aislamiento. (Self-portrait in isolation). 2020.
H. 7 x W. 5.5 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Gabo Caruso. Dad Pink. 2019.
H. 19.68 W. 29.52 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Gabo Caruso. Dad Pink. 2019.
H. 19.68 W. 29.52 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Karoliina Kase. Shannon. 2015.
H. 39 x W. 26 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Karoliina Kase. Simon. 2015.
H. 39 x W. 26 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Kristen Joy Emack. Tory. 2020.
H. 18 x W. 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Kristen Joy Emack. Picnic. 2020.
H. 18 x W. 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © María José Juncos. Something about us. 2020.
H. 19.55 x W. 13.96 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Mirjana Vrbaški. Olga. 2017.
H. 39 x W. 29,5 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Mirjana Vrbaški. Girl. 2009.
H. 39 x W. 27,5 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Morganna Magee. Shania AT 15. 2016.
H. 30 x W. 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

© Miru Kim. Blind Door #2. 2008.
H. 17 X W. 23 inches.

© Nayari Castillo. Untitled. 2005.
H. 38.58 x W. 38.58 inches.

© Nayari Castillo. Untitled. 2005.
H. 35 x W. 35 inches.

Guest photographer © Reme Campos. Trans (ition) Elio. 2019.
H. 33.1x W. 23.4 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

“I have always found such beauty and comfort in that which was established as “feminine”. All things soft and delicate, all things intricate and detailed, they all pleased me. But I soon came to learn that that is not what makes a woman. Femininity and Womanhood are two separate entities. The former is an energy, a set of characteristics. The latter is an intrinsic state of being. We all possess masculine and feminine energy, shaped into different characteristics and qualities that define us.

But I am not a woman. I never was and I never will be. My gender is present to my core. How I decide to show myself to the world is a statement of what a man can look like. I am most comfortable when I am not confined by a set of expectations.”

Guest photographer © Reme Campos. Trans (ition) Alex.
2021
H. 33.1 x W. 23.4 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

“My transition has allowed me to find myself, learn more about my capabilities. The journeys been long but that’s taught me how to be patient and kinder on myself, and how to advocate for myself. As I’m young and transitioning I’m growing into who I needed to look up to when I was at the start so hopefully younger trans people can see more than just the statistics and feel like hope is lost.”

Guest photographer © Tania Bohórquez. Incesto. Capítulo 1: origen. (Incest. Chapter 1: origin). 2011 – 2017
H. 11.81 x W. 17.71 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Tania Bohórquez. Incesto. Capítulo 1: origen. (Incest. Chapter 1: origin). 2011 – 2017
H. 11.81 x W. 17.71 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Guest photographer © Tania Bohórquez. Incesto. Capítulo 1: origen. (Incest. Chapter 1: origin). 2011 – 2017
H. 11.81 x W. 17.71 inches. Courtesy of the artist.