Coming soon: Peruvian Photography at the Blanton

Opening Saturday, April 23, the Blanton Museum of Art presents Fixing Shadows: Contemporary Peruvian Photography, 1968–2015, featuring more than 40 works from a transformational period of artistic growth, political turmoil, and social engagement in Peru. Realized in collaboration with the university’s Harry Ransom Center, this exhibition will present photographs from their esteemed collection alongside new Blanton acquisitions. The exhibition further explores the influence of an important generation of photographers working in Peru during the 1970s and 1980s on the practices of a younger generation working since the 1990s. Fixing Shadows includes works by Fernando La Rosa, Mariella Agois, Carlos Domínguez, Milagros de la Torre, and Pablo Hare, among others.

Woman with child and photograph of missing husband

Loans from the Ransom Center’s Photography Collection and William P. Wright Collection of Peruvian Photography will comprise works by key artists active during the 1970s and 1980s, while the Blanton will present new acquisitions by artists working from the 1990s through the present. Together, the collections chronicle the history of Peruvian photography from the last five decades and will evidence changing attitudes concerning the role of the medium in relation to art and social justice in Peru from 1968 through 2015.

1968–1989

Works from the Harry Ransom Center

The William P. Wright Collection of Peruvian Photography consists of works by some of the most influential photographers working in the 1970s and 1980s in Peru, including Roberto Fantozzi, Mariella Agois, Billy Hare, Carlos Domínguez, and Jaime Rázuri, and was assembled by photographer and curator Fernando Castro. Before the 1970s, photography was widely considered to be a purely documentary medium. During the 1970s, however, photographers and critics worked hard to transform this notion, and photography began to assume a status on par with literature or painting as an artistic medium in its own right, producing artists and collectives dedicated to photography as a form of artistic self expression. In the 1980s, violence and political struggle devastated Peru as the Maoist insurgents, Sendero Luminoso (“Shining Path”) waged a brutal guerilla war against the Peruvian state. During this time, photojournalism assumed a role of great importance in the country, as photography provided not only crucial visual evidence of the violence taking place across Peru but also denounced it.

1990–2015

Works from the Blanton Museum of Art

WMiguel Grau, Bahia Torgugas, Ancash

The Blanton will present works by Peruvian photographers active from the 1990s through 2015 that both complement and expand upon themes developed by photographs from the Ransom Center’s collection. Many of these photographs are new acquisitions by the Blanton, all by artists that maintain strong connections to the visual and conceptual histories of photography in Peru. Works by Milagros de la Torre, Flavia Gandolfo, Luz Maria Bedoya, Pablo Hare, Edi Hirose, Gilda Mantilla, Raimond Chavez, and others, will address the intricacies of Peruvian history and the country’s national identity, both within Peru and around the globe. Milagros de la Torre’s Under the Black Sun (1991–1993) directly confronts photographic traditions in Peru in terms of race and national memory, serving as a transitional marker between practices of artists from the 1970s and 1980s and those working in the 1990s and 2000s. Luz Maria Bedoya’s quiet contemplative series Blind Spot (1997) captures glimpses of a desert landscape along Peru’s Pan-American Highway, intentionally countering expectations of more spectacular scenery typically associated with the Peruvian Andes. Finally, two works from Edi Hirose’s Canteras del Sillar (2015) expose environmental devastation in the stone quarries outside of Areuqipa, Peru’s former capital and famously “white city.”

Make sure to visit the Blanton starting Saturday, April 23 to see this powerful new exhibition, and learn more on the Blanton’s website.

This exhibition is organized by the Blanton Museum of Art in collaboration with the Harry Ransom Center.

Image captions:

Domínguez, Carlos “Chino”
Madre e hijo con foto de padre desaparecido. Ayacucho, Perú
[Woman with child and photograph of missing husband. Ayacucho, Peru] 1985
Gelatin silver print
14 x 10.9 in
Gift of William P. Wright, Jr., From the exhibition The Peruvians As Seen By Peruvian Photographers, curated by Fernando Castro and made available by the Texas Humanities Resource Center, a division of the Texas Committee for the Humanities, Photography Collection, Harry Ransom Center

Hare, Pablo.
Miguel Grau, Bahía Tortugas, Ancash, de la serie Monumentos, 2005-2012
[Miguel Grau, Bahía Tortugas, Ancash, from the series Monuments, 2005-2012] Inkjet print on fiber paper
11.5 x 14.5 in
Blanton Museum of Art, Gift of the artist and purchase through the generosity of Jeanne and Michael Klein, Kathleen Irvin Loughlin and Christopher Loughlin, and Anthony and Celeste Meier, 2016