So far, 2018 has been a banner year for Argentine photography exhibitions. With a phenomenal retrospective of Aldo Sessa in the MAMBA and Sara Facio’s images of Perón at MALBA already on show, it is now Andy Goldstein’s turn to exhibit at FoLA.
For those of you unfamiliar with FoLA (Fototeca Latinoamericana), it’s Buenos Aires’ only fully dedicated photography museum. Tucked away near Palermo’s Los Arcos shopping center, it prides itself on showing some of Latin America’s most talented photographers.
For this season, Goldstein has taken over three of FoLA’s airy and open-plan gallery rooms. Thematically and not chronologically arranged, Goldstein seems to effortlessly provide a realistic and unapologetic look into other’s lives. Refreshingly honest in the era of insta-perfection, the images don’t shy away from displaying life’s realities.
Chronicling Argentina’s 20th century social history, the retrospective captures the emotion of Juan Perón’s infamous return from exile at Ezeiza, just moments before the outburst of violence that killed 13 and injured 300 on June 20, 1973. Seamlessly allowing the atmosphere to emanate from the images, his photographs are striking and visually arresting.
The most intriguing snapshot into Argentina’s past is Goldstein’s exposé of ‘Gente en su Casa’ – people in their homes. Psychoanalysts, dancers, and doormen are all photographed in their natural habitat. As part of the series, separate images of 12 siblings were shot to allow us to step into the domestic and working lives of Argentines during the mid to late 80s. If you’re the nosy type (like me) who often feels curious about people’s lives, Goldstein successfully piques the visitor’s interest by helpfully including a few lines of text about the photographed subject.
Goldstein’s talent lies in his ability to catch his subjects off guard. Revealing that he always shoots using some basic guidelines, he always asked that his subjects choose where and how they were posed. Goldstein only insisted that the pose last more than a second and that he chose the lighting. These simple rules give life to the natural and relaxed state his portrait subjects are so often presented in.
Producing larger than life photographs, his ‘Vivir en La Tierra’ series lets us inside the homes of impoverished families across the continent. Looking at these images, you could almost feel intrusive looking at the intimate details of each humble family home. Taken in 2012, 25 years after his ‘Gente en su Casa’ series, with digitalization of photography and new panoramic techniques, his images are taken to a new level of detail and impact. Through his photos, Goldstein was able humanize the realities of the estimated 127 million living in extreme poverty throughout Latin America. In a few lines of text, Goldstein tells the story of each family in a truthful, no frills, pre ‘Humans of New York’ style. All names are changed; one poignant caption describes how a father of four is displaced and his life threatened due to his refusal to collaborate with drug cartels.
Goldstein’s series named ‘La Muerte de La Muerte, taken in Mexico during 1979, comprises seemingly simple images that are hauntingly atmospheric. If you take a closer look, the images are a metaphor for the disappeared victims in Argentina. Each of the photos are of forgotten tombs and gravestones which feature a barely visible name, erased over time. In 1979, given the danger of photography in Argentina due to the dictatorship, Goldstein set about producing images in a more subtle, non-confrontational way. Both beautiful and poignant, the photographs enable a sad reflection of the times when free photography was nearly impossible.
Branching out into the abstract, Goldstein produced a series of black and white images during the early days of Photoshop. Outlandish and wacky, the images of the series, ‘Aborescencias’ (1995) revolve around the female form being replicated and reproduced multiple times around natural forms like tree roots. Describing the images as archaeological with the modern view we have in 2018, Goldstein felt it important to display them to show his initial experimentation with digital photo editing tools.
Go and see Andy Goldstein’s ‘Inventarios Fotografías 1973-2012‘ exhibition at FoLA (Godoy Cruz 2626) until May 12. FoLA is open everyday (except Wednesday) from 12 PM – 8 PM. For more details see their website, Instagram or Twitter.
Here’s to Argentine photographers!