AboutPhotography has been important to the Latin American left since the Mexican Revolution which was the first radical conflict to be extensively filmed and photographed, with the willing participation of the revolutionaries. The remarkable photographs of the combatants on both sides, of the women soldiers and camp-followers, of revolutionaries storming through streets on horseback, and of the terrible social conditions that spurred the revolution, echo down the decades, and have been referred back to again and again by new generations of radicals.
Many of the themes of photographs of the Mexican Revolution are picked up once again in the portrayal of Castro's overthrow of the Batista dictatorship, and again in the Sandinista revolution against Somoza, and in the failed insurrection in El Salvador. As the dictatorships fell across the continent following the end of the Cold War, activists turned to photography to reclaim the memories of resistance and oppression that had been denied them so long. Relatives of the disappeared, including the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, used photographs of their missing loved ones in their many years of street demonstrations, on websites, and as practical tools to find the children of those who had been murdered who were often kidnapped by the military and raised ignorant of their fate. The Zapatistas, too, draw on the imagery of the Mexican revolution in their own much-disseminated photography.
In the recent wave of radicalism that has swept the continent, and particularly in the way the Chavez government represents itself, links to the revolutionary past are drawn out through photography. Latin America has also continued to produce humanist photographers working in black and white, and in the tradition of engaged social documentary; there, at least, such work has not been subject to the combination of intellectual condescension and economic imperatives that have tended to eliminate it elsewhere.
The exhibition will include work by Korda (CU), Susan Meiselas (US), Jonathan Moller (US), Roberto Salas (US), Sebastià £o Salgado (BR), Antonio Turok (MX) and many others.
Exhibition in association with Fotonet.
Supported by Winchester School of Art/University of Southampton, Arts Council England and Hampshire County Council.