Papelitos Blog


Lee esta entrada en español.

David Alfaro Siqueiros. “Función de la Fotografía.” Hoy (Mexico City), no.441, 1945.
ICAA Record ID: 760429

“In the vestibule there is a mirror, which faithfully duplicates appearances. Men often infer from this mirror that the Library is not infinite—if it were, what need would there be for that illusory replication? I prefer to dream that burnished surfaces are a figuration and promise of the infinite.”

— Jorge Luis Borges, The Library of Babel


August 19 is International Photography Day, and I photograph paper; the delicate nature of paper is incontrovertible. Paper succumbs: to ink, inadvertent mishandling, moisture, the passage of time, the voracity of insects, and—well—scissors beats paper. I care for photographs of paper others have taken. I store and process them. I negotiate with the skew, crop, tone, saturation, clipping, flare, shadows, texture, sharpness, noise, dust, and other artifacts of digital imaging. In reference to the ICAA’s Documents of Latin American and Latino Art (Documents Project), the repository I tend to as a Digital Imaging Associate, this photographic logic as pictorial subtext makes visible the structure of generosity to which global access to these texts is indebted. Valuable as documents themselves, they are vestiges of the work of over 150 researchers, historians, art critics, cataloguers, librarians, and other professionals who comprised the first phase of the Documents Project. Here, the photographic medium becomes generative as a means to imagine the web of connections that animate the digital archive, which in turn becomes a place for being present with a sense of knowing that not every text is legible and not every language has yet to be brought into meaning. What follows is a speculative bibliography of photographs.

Thomas J. Farkas. “Fotografia – caminhos diversos.” Íris (São Paulo, Brasil), n.19, 1948.
ICAA Record ID: 1110873

“Fotografia: Camhinos diversos” by the Hungarian photographer (based in Brazil) Thomas Farkas photographed, printed on copier paper, and rephotographed.

Manuel Zapata Olivella. “Un lente para mirar al hombre : el arte fotográfico de Nereo.” El Tiempo: Lecturas Dominicales (Bogotá, Colombia), 1964.
ICAA Record ID: 1132885

Felix Gonzalez-Torres. “Frida Medín : Una imagen reconstruida.” El Mundo, Puerto Rico Ilustrado (San Juan, Puerto Rico), 1988.
ICAA Record ID: 1055114

A shadow diagonally intersecting Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s reflection on Frida Medín accentuates a physical relation between what is imaged and the conditions under which its photograph was taken; inconsistent room illumination via an open window, perhaps. Following a preexisting shadow in Medín’s photograph, it connects the two works, intertwining their visual narratives. What is considered a defect —a rupture at the event of digitization— thus accentuates the playful ambiguity between document and photograph, blurs the boundaries between the two, and creates a space for the relations that carry and are carried by images.

Pierre MacOrlan. “Crónica de las artes mecánicas: La fotografía.” El Universal Ilustrado: Un semanario mexicano con espíritu (Mexico City), 13, no.642, 1929.
ICAA Record ID: 754924

Roberto Merino. “Juan Luis Martínez: La nueva novela la memoria secreta.” Número Quebrado (Santiago, Chile), no. 1, 1988.
ICAA Record ID: 738166

The text “Juan Luis Martínez: La nueva novela la memoria secreta” (1988) refers to the use Martínez makes of photography, the one that Lewis Carroll took from Alice Lidell (the lost girl who in 1861 went through the looking glass to Wonderland), relating it, in this way, with the operations of secret intertextuality in the work of Martinez (hidden quotes, ultra-coded, and without indicators).

“In the phenomenological pursuit of a poem by [Henri] Michaux (The Space in the Shadows), [Gaston] Bachelard writes: ‘Outside and inside are both intimate; they are always ready to be reversed, to exchange their hostility. If a border-line surface exists between such an inside and outside, this surface is painful on both sides.’ (The Poetics of Space, 1957). Twenty years later, on page 113 of La nueva novela, he anonymously reappears: ‘In this small frame, the outside: (the blank space of the page) and the inside: (the photograph) is soon to be inverted, to exchange their hostility. If there is a border-line surface between such an inside and such an outside, that surface is painful on both sides.’”

Edward Weston. “Conceptos del Artista.” Forma: Revista de Artes Plásticas (Mexico City), 1928.
ICAA Record ID: 748739

Tom Morton. “Un sueño de tí.” Juan Pablo Echeverri, 10-14. (Bogotá, Colombia), 2007.
ICAA Record ID: 1134598

“Un sueño de ti” is the title of the curatorial text written by English critic Tom Morton for the exhibition Diva’s Life (2007), featuring work by the Colombian artist and compulsive self-portraitist Juan Pablo Echeverri. In his photography, there is no essential Echeverri but a multitude of possible Echeverri(s) grouped into one.

Pilar Moreno de Ángel. “El ‘Papel Periódico Ilustrado’ y sus creadores: Urdaneta, Paredes, Racines y la fotografía.” Revista Credencial Historia (Bogotá, Colombia), 1996.
ICAA Record ID: 1131550

Junior Fernandez is the Digital Imaging Associate at the ICAA.

No comments yet

Log in or register to comment

Recent Posts

¡Aquí Estamos!: Latinx Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The ICAA and MFAH are working to address this absence via the ¡Aquí Estamos! Latinx Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This multi-year, institution-wide initiative aims to transform this emergent field by opening critical pathways for the increased visibility and study of Latinx art and artists within a major encyclopedic museum.


2023 Peter C. Marzio Award Winners Announced

Lee esta entrada en español. The ICAA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Competition for the Peter C. Marzio Award for Outstanding Research and Latin American and Latino Art. The two graduate-level winning essays will be published in a 2024 issue of Working Papers. This year’s Graduate Essay Prize was awarded to […]



August 19 is International Photography Day, and I photograph paper; the delicate nature of paper is incontrovertible. Paper succumbs: to ink, inadvertent mishandling, moisture, the passage of time, the voracity of insects, and—well—scissors beats paper. […]


Pride Month Spotlight: Los Contemporáneos

The writers and artists associated with the magazine Contemporáneos, published in Mexico City from 1928 to 1931, were called a “group without a group.” Rather than adhering to specific doctrines or styles, they advocated individual expression and shared a desire to bring international, avant-garde ideas into Mexican culture. […]