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"The Study of Photography in Latin America" - Exploring a Multifaceted Visual Landscape

Jean Paul Brandt
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University of New Mexico Press, 2023, 273 p.

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1Nathanial Gardner's groundbreaking book, "The Study of Photography in Latin America: Critical Insights and Methodological Approaches," propels readers on an immersive and enlightening journey into the extensive and still-little-explored world of Latin American photography. With meticulous research and a creative methodology, Gardner sets out to bridge the void in the expanding field of visual studies in the region, delving into the current state of photography and engaging with influential scholars, artists, and recent developments to unveil a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. By focusing on established researchers and academic pioneers, Gardner effectively addresses the dearth of unified knowledge in the study of Latin American photography.

2Gardner's innovative methodology is founded on a fundamental inquiry: How is photography studied in Latin America? To uncover the answer, Gardner embarks on primary research, conducting in-depth and thought-provoking dialogues with scholars who actively contribute to the field. By mapping the landscape of Latin American photography scholars and approaching them for their insights, Gardner ensures a diverse representation of voices, capturing the unique perspectives, challenges, and opportunities that emerge from various corners of the region. This meticulous approach allows for a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the study of photography in Latin America.

3The book's chapters are the culmination of profound and substantive conversations with leading experts on the matter. Gardner collaborates closely with each scholar, establishing a robust framework that explores a range of key topics while fostering organic and dynamic discussions. By granting scholars the agency to express their distinct interests, methodologies, and discoveries, Gardner crafts a polyphony of voices that immerses readers in a vivid and engaging exploration of Latin American photography.

4A distinguishing feature of "The Study of Photography in Latin America" is Gardner's astute attention to the underrepresentation of Latin American photographers in the world canon. This incisive aspect underscores the importance of recognizing and elevating the contributions of Latin American photographers within the global photographic discourse. Gardner's commitment to rectifying this imbalance by amplifying the voices of scholars in Latin America offers a refreshing perspective and expands the horizons of photographic scholarship.

5Moreover, Gardner emphasizes the crucial role of institutions in shaping our shared knowledge of photography. The symbiotic relationship between books on photography and the exhibitions on which they are based is explored, shedding light on how these institutions contribute to the development and dissemination of photographic knowledge. By highlighting the influence of these institutions, Gardner underscores the significance of curatorial practices and exhibition spaces in shaping our understanding of Latin American photography.

6"The Study of Photography in Latin America" also engages with the realm of theory, revealing a lesser reliance on critical theory compared to other scholars studying photography in different regions of the world. This distinct characteristic of Latin American photography scholarship prompts a reconsideration of the methodologies and theoretical frameworks employed in the study of the region. Gardner's meticulous examination of this disparity expands the theoretical landscape of photography studies and invites scholars to explore alternative approaches when engaging with Latin American photography.

7Within the book, Gardner devotes attention to the prominence of the archive as a topic actively foregrounded by Latin American photography scholars. This focus on archival practices highlights the unique ways in which Latin American photographers and scholars engage with the past, memory, and collective history. By emphasizing the significance of the archive, Gardner underscores the critical role it plays in shaping the narratives and methodologies of the region’s photography.

8Another key concern that emerges in the study of Latin American photography is the connection to the actual photographic process. Gardner illuminates the ways in which Latin American photographers navigate and explore various photographic processes, highlighting the significance of craftsmanship and technical aspects in their artistic endeavors. This exploration of processes adds depth to our understanding of Latin American photography and demonstrates the multifacceted nature of the medium within the region.

9"The Study of Photography in Latin America" also challenges prevailing notions of the documentary genre. Research conducted by Gardner and scholars in the field reveals that Latin American photography often defies conventional patterns of foreign gazes and perspectives. The unique socio-political contexts and diverse cultural landscapes of Latin America give rise to a distinct documentary approach that defies easy categorization. By shedding light on this departure from established norms, Gardner invites readers to reconsider their preconceived notions and engage with the rich and multifaceted documentary practices in Latin America.

10In addition to these critical aspects, Gardner's book serves as a comprehensive resource for scholars and enthusiasts alike. The depth of research and the extensive dialogues with scholars provide readers with a nuanced and comprehensive overview of Latin American photography. The inclusion of carefully selected photographs, directly linked to scholars' research, offers a visual dimension that enriches the reading experience and provides further insights into the region's photographic heritage.

11In conclusion, "The Study of Photography in Latin America: Critical Insights and Methodological Approaches" is an indispensable addition to the field of photography studies. Gardner's meticulous research, creative methodology, and incisive analysis open new avenues for exploration and understanding. By addressing the underrepresentation of Latin American photographers in the global canon, highlighting the role of institutions, examining theoretical frameworks, foregrounding the importance of archives, exploring photographic processes, and redefining documentary practices, Gardner invites scholars and enthusiasts to engage with Latin American photography in a more nuanced and comprehensive manner.

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Jean Paul Brandt, « "The Study of Photography in Latin America" - Exploring a Multifaceted Visual Landscape »Amerika [En ligne], 26 | 2023, mis en ligne le 21 juin 2023, consulté le 11 décembre 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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