For articles, see F2 eZine Archive 7 - July - Sept 2001

Archive 7     July-September 2001

Gallery Highlights

Also See Featured Galleries

Department of Photographs of The J. Paul Getty Museum announces a symposium

The Open Road: Photography In America 1850 - NOW

Thursday, September 13 - Saturday, September 15th
Harold M. Williams Auditorium
The Getty Center, Los Angeles

Thursday September 13, 2001
Peter Galassi, chief Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, NY
Weston Naef, Curator, Department of Photographs The J. Paul Getty Museum

Friday, September 14, 2001

Jennifer Watts, Curator of Photographs, The Huntington Library
Drew Johnson, Associate Curator of Photography, Oakland Museum of California
Keith Davis, Fine Arts Program, Director, Hallmark Cards
Peter Palmquist, Historian, Founder of Women In Photography International Archives

Sandra Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Naomi Rosenblum, Independent Scholar
Sarah Greenough, Curator of Photographs, National Gallery of Art
Rachel Aruz, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art, Williams College
Theodore Stebbins, Distinguished Fellow and Consultative Curator of America Art, Harvard University Art Museums

Saturday September 15, 2001

Judith Keller, Associate Curator, Department of Photographs, The J. Paul Getty Museum
Douglas Nickel, Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Trudy Wilner Stack, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Center of Creative Photography
Marilyn Laufer, Independent Curator and Lecturer, Department of Art, Aubum University
Thomas Weski, Curator of Photography Museum of Ludwig Cologne

Arthur Ollman, Executive Director, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

Six Contemporary Artists, John Divola, Mark Klett, Catherine Opie, Stephen Shore, Catherine Wagner, Carrie mae Weems

The American Tradition & Walker Evans: Photographs from the Getty Collection
July 10-October 28, 2001
Walker Evans redrew the map of American visual culture in the 1930s by photographing what he believed to be the most common aspects of the American scene. His subjects were small-town main streets, homes inhabited by average Americans, typical modes of transportation, everyday styles of dress, and the environmental residue of a consumer-driven society. Yet he was not the first photographer in quest of the American spirit. Evans walked in the footsteps of pioneers of photography already active for more than 50 years who were also focused on typically American subjects. In addition to 35 Evans photographs, this exhibition includes approximately 75 works by other photographers of the American scene. They range from regional photographers such as the Langenheim Brothers of Philadelphia, Carleton Watkins of San Francisco, and Adam Clark Vroman of Pasadena to classic photographers of the first half of the 20th century such as Alfred Stieglitz, Lewis Hine, Paul Strand, and Doris Ulmann. Like Evans, these artists explored the quintessence of this country from their own unique perspectives.

For Reservations after June 30th:

$75 for the entire symposium
$50 for students*
$60 for a single day
$30 for students*

Please note that registration is on a first-come, first-served basis; receipt of your check does not guarantee a reservation.

Please contact Erica Schmidbauer in Visitor Services (310) 440-7253


ATLANTA - The world's largest camera, a celebrity lecture series and photography exhibitions across the city will headline the third annual ATLANTA CELEBRATES PHOTOGRAPHY, a month-long festival of photography set for October 2001.

This is the third annual city-wide celebration of photography planned by ATLANTA CELEBRATES PHOTOGRAPHY, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization. More than 75 fine art galleries, educational institutions and public spaces are expected to feature photography by local, regional and nationally known artists during the month. In addition, planners will bring to the city celebrity photographers Joyce Tenneson, Michael Kenna, Renee Cox and Pulitzer Prize winner John Kaplan as distinguished speakers, along with writer Michael Lesy.

The Polaroid 20x24 camera - the world's largest camera at five-feet-high and 235 pounds - will be installed in Atlanta for one week. Reservations to use it to make 20"x24" original prints are available ( The larger-than-life instant camera, one of only five of its kind in the world, has gained acclaim for its impressive list of users, including artists Joyce Tenneson (haunting and mystical human figures), William Wegman (and his famous dogs), David Levinthal (and his Barbie dolls) and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (celebrity portraits).

A Portfolio Review Day is set for October 13, coupled with an October 13-14 Photo Trade Show, in collaboration with the Advertising Photographers of America. Also planned are a Juried Exhibition, Photography Studio Tours, an October 20 Celebration Party and Auction and a free comprehensive city-wide Event Guide.

For more information, contact ATLANTA CELEBRATES PHOTOGRAPHY, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art organization, at:

660-A 9th Street, NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30318

Visit our website at, or send email to


As an institution committed to expanding public awareness of the roles of women in history and to advancing society by advancing women, the Schlesinger Library established an exhibition program which aims to:

  • Illustrate the wealth and range of the collections with in-house exhibitions.
  • Support contemporary women artists by providing a showcase for their work, be it specifically about women and womenÕs issues or not.

With the exception of a few glass cases, the library's exhibition space consists of wall space available on the four floors of the building and totalling about 120 running feet. For this reason, the works exhibited should be mostly two-dimensional (photographs, prints, drawings, watercolors, paintings etc...).

Exhibitors shall be responsible for the following:

  1. Preparation (matting and framing) of their work.
  2. Transportation of their work to and from the library, including costs of shipping and insurance (if necessary).
  3. Hanging of their work (the library has a list of installers who can be called upon if necessary).
  4. Preparation of captions and explanatory texts, biographical material and exhibit statement.
  5. Mailing list for invitations to the opening reception, catalog or list of exhibited objects, price list.

The Schlesinger Library shall provide the following:

  1. Local publicity.
  2. An opening reception.
  3. A standard printed invitation with or without illustration and postage for up to 400 invitations.

Viewing hours for the exhibition shall correspond to regular Schlesinger Library hours. If you are interested please contact Marie-Hˇl¸ne Gold at or 617.495.8647. For further information about the Schlesinger Library please visit our website at



Marta María Pérez Bravo
All Photographs copyright Maria Perez Bravo

With simple props that might be found in a kitchen or tool shed, Marta María Pérez Bravo conjures scenes that embody the sacred, giving prosaic form to mysteries of the spirit. Crossing boundaries between the sacred and the profane comes naturally for Perez Bravo, as her art and life are rooted in the tenets of a faith that finds the spiritual manifest in all things, natural and manufactured, living and inanimate.

A native of Havana, Pérez Bravo came to the Afro-Cuban religions of Santería and Palo Monte as an adult, finding within them a way of comprehending the world that was, for her, universal in its reach and deeply personal in its touch. Her earliest photographs dealt with just such a convergence: even as she became immersed in the religions of the African Diaspora, she became a mother with the birth of twins. While Pérez Bravo's infant daughters led her on a personal journey into maternity—with all the attendant realities of diapers and conflicting feeding and sleeping schedules—her photographs were immersed in Yoruba tradition, in which twin spirits, called ibeji, are revered.

From the moment she began to make art in 1986, Pérez Bravo has been her own model in photographs shot by her husband Flavio, who operates the camera according to the artist's direction. And from the earliest photographs, made in the courtyard of their home in Havana's Marianao section, Pérez Bravo has adhered to a singular format. Each photograph depicts the artist enacting a concept derived from her faith, situated within a white aura that causes the edges of the scene to vanish into nothingness.

In the pantheon of Santería and Palo Monte, white is associated with Obatala, the spirit (or more properly, orisha) of creativity and purity. With this white aura, Pérez Bravo honors Obatala and removes her vignettes from their specific place—whether her home in Havana or her current residence in Monterrey, Mexico—to a floating immaterial space that is simultaneously familiar and visionary. In the process, Pérez Bravo also transforms her body, so that she is at once an individual woman and a representative of all flesh. In this, perhaps, she adheres to the examples of Christian martyrdom inherited from Catholicism, her family's religion and the furnace that forged the smelting of Africa, Taino and European traditions in Cuba.

Like many white Cubans who came to Santería and Palo Monte as adults, Pérez Bravo regards folklorist Lydia Cabrera as a spiritual guide. Fifty years ago, Cabrera was engaged in a decade-long study of the oral histories and legends of Cubans of African descent, eventually publishing her findings as El Monte in 1954. Like her peers, artist Wifredo Lam and writer/musicologist Alejo Carpentier, Cabrera spent years in Europe that led her to make connections between the modern fascination with African art and the reality of African influence on Cuban culture.

Following a generation of writers and artists whose work had been derived from academic models, Lam, Carpentier and Cabrera were among a group of pioneers that led Cubans to realize the uniqueness of the island's syncretic culture. Lam has long been lionized as Cuba's foremost modernist, but Cabrera exerts a special influence among many current artists. As Pérez Bravo puts it, "Lydia Cabrera's books are like Bibles to me. I'm really a devotee of her literature and thoughts." Cabrera's research remains a great resource for understanding Afro-Cuban culture. But perhaps as important for artists was her methodology: By attributing validity to personal accounts and oral histories as cultural records, Cabrera encouraged the next generation of artists and writers to value the subjective voice.

Subjectivity is central to Pérez Bravo's photographs, which are composed with an underlying symbolism alluding to her personal experience with spirituality. The meanings of her images can be elusive, and clarity may not always come from her titles, which tend toward the poetic and often incorporate terms from Palo Monte. As Pérez Bravo works from her faith, certain allusions may be clouded in translation to nonitiates. For such viewers, the photographs may appeal purely in terms of their mystery and beauty.
But central themes and associations emerge for those who take a holistic approach to Pérez Bravo's work, understanding that with each photograph, the artist guides the viewer through her own spiritual journey. Indeed, her recent photographs offer evidence that this journey is taken step by step, and that each step is a profound encounter between flesh and spirit, the commonplace and the holy, matter and the immaterial.

Several recent photographs suggest a neophyte's searching need for faith. Posing with her feet in mid-step, as if frozen in mid-journey, Pérez Bravo describes the travails and comforts of a pilgrim's progress. "Cruzando un Río" (Crossing a River) shows the artist's
bare feet among strands of elastic thread, in a shallow space defined by a white sheet. Taken at its literal elements—feet, thread, sheet—the scene is simple and mundane. But the title encourages us to think symbolically, to imagine that the threads are ripples of water so that we see a woman taking a cautious step through a shallow rivulet, moving slowly upstream.

Santería and Palo Monte are religions of symbols, in which one thing invariably stands for another. Having nudged her viewers toward symbolism, Pérez Bravo sends us in search of metaphor and narrative. Is the woman fleeing unseen pursuers, wading into water to throw the dogs off her scent? Or is she moving with reverent care as she ascends toward some unseen vision? Looking at Pérez Bravo's other scenarios, one begins to suspect the latter. Recalling the sacred associations of rivers—cleansings, baptisms, crossing over to Jordan—it becomes clear that the artist's feet are leading us somewhere.

The feet race across square stones marked with crucifixes in "Siete Cantos" (Seven Songs), a path through the bedrock of music in religious rituals. Ascending a stack of bricks in "Acosumbrado a Saltar" (Accustomed to Jumping), the artist's feet act out an ecstatic faith in the miraculous abilities of orishas, the divine spirits of ancestors. "The spirits leap and fly without obstacles," Pérez Bravo says in reference to this photograph.

"Buscando un Secreto" (In Search for a Secret) shows the artist nearing the source of her journey, posed as if diving headlong into a well. The well, Pérez Bravo says, is filled with sacred inscriptions. As she surrenders herself to the darkness of the well, the artist is figuratively reentering the womb, preparing for rebirth in the rituals of her faith.

Pérez Bravo demonstrates the routines of ritual with "Los Componentes" (The Components), a series of three photographs showing the black kettle associated with altars and ceremonies. Reaching from above, the artist's arm deposits items into the kettle, each representing the various ingredients that activate the sacred receptacle. Soil from a holy site is a powerful activator, and its sources are indicted by small white carvings—graveyards are represented by crucifixes, churchyards by church facades. Small bells called aja, used to summon the orisha to ceremonies, are arranged in preparation as one is delicately rung.

Obatala is summoned by "Caballo" (Horse), in which the artist sits beneath a white cloth topped by horsehairs. "Los Cantos Mandan" (The Commanding Songs) shows the artist squatting over ten empty bowls, hands clapping as she performs the songs that praise and direct the orisha. The tools of ritual are infused with power, so much so that they become extensions of the artist's body in Mbele, an Afro-Cuban term for knife. The knife's handle is fused to her hand, so that the blade becomes an appendage of her arm. The artist's hand is again transformed in "Ver y Creer" (See and Believe), which uses her body to give physical form to the orisha.

If Pérez Bravo recalls the steps of her journey within Palo Monte, from neophyte to initiate, there can be no doubt of her ultimate faith. "Vive Ahi" (Live There) offers testament to a belief in miracles. The artist is unseen, again posed under a white sheet. Atop her head is a bowl holding a crescent moon. The image refers to a legend, Pérez Bravo says. "It is said that if one places a plate of milk at night as an offering to the moon, it takes a drink." In Spanish, the words I translate as "it takes a drink" (ella baja a beber) also refer to low tide, to the relationship of the moon and the oceans. In this still and poetic image, Pérez Bravo finds an eternal cycle in the ephemeral moment at which the moon's lips touch the bowl.

On the thoroughly domestic stage on which she enacts her passion plays, Pérez Bravo has found a kind of homespun transcendentalism. This is where her photographs have the most power for those not initiated into her religion. Although the references can be specific to Santería and Palo Monte, Pérez Bravo speaks from a common vocabulary that connects her to all faithful people. As she makes her journey, Pérez Bravo personal cosmography speaks from the beliefs of one to the faith of many.

Grady T. Turner

Images "Courtesy of Iturralde Gallery"
Teresa Iturralde
116 S. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 937-4267 Fsx (323) 937-4269

Shifting Tides: Cuban Photography after the Revolution

April 15–July 1, 2001 (see continuing schedule below)
LACMA exhibits revealing work by three generations of Cuban photographers that highlights the continuing and extraordinary achievements of Cuba's artistic community, as well as the social and political changes in Castro's Cuba. Shifting Tides: Cuban Photography after the Revolution, organized in three sections with a prologue gallery, includes more than 100 poignant black-and-white and color photographs. The exhibition is on view April 15 through July 1, 2001, Los Angeles County Museum of Aet

Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez (Korda)
Osvaldo Salas
Enrique de la Uz,
Ivan Cañas,
Rigoberto Romero,
María Eugenia Haya (Marucha),
José Alberto Figueroa,
Rogelio López Marín(Gory),
Juan Carlos Alóm,
Marta María Pérez Bravo, (only female photographer)
José Manuel Fors
Pedro Abascal,
Manuel Piña,
Carlos Garaicoa,
Abigail González,
Ernesto Leal

LACMA exhibits revealing work by three generations of Cuban photographers that highlights the continuing and extraordinary achievements of Cuba's artistic community, as well as the social and political changes in Castro's Cuba.Shifting Tides: Cuban Photography after the Revolution, organized in three sections with a prologue gallery, includes more than 100 poignant black-and-white and color photographs. The exhibition is on view April 15 through July 1, 2001.

Photography in the Cuba of Fidel Castro has been and remains a thriving means of artistic expression. Through their images, photographers working in the aftermath of the military revolution have compiled a legacy of a people, of a country, and of the revolution itself. From the epic pictures of the new social order that followed the revolution through the experimental reclamations of personal histories that defined a new generation, to the intensely individualized spatial investigations of the most contemporary work of artists using photography, Shifting Tides: Cuban Photography after the Revolution provides insights into not only the evolution of the photographic tradition of art making in Cuba but also the trajectory and character of the revolution that spawned it.

Credit: This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and was supported in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Support Endowment Fund. In-kind support for the exhibition is provided by KLON 88.1 FM.

Curator Tim B. Wride, associate curator of Photography, LACMA.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-857-6000 (general information)
323-857-0098 (TDD)
April 15–July 1, 2001

Venue Dates Following LACMA:

Grey Art Gallery, New York University
100 Washsington Square East
NY, NY 10003
(212) 998-6780
August 28, 2001 – October 27, 2001

Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago
600 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, ILL 60605
Jan 11, 2002 - March 9, 2002

For articles, see F2 eZine Archive 7 - July - Sept 2001