LATIN AMERICAN FOTO FESTIVAL. july 11-28, 2024. Bronx Documentary Center, New York – Usa

The Bronx Documentary Center (BDC) holds its annual Latin American Foto Festival (LAFF), featuring large-scale photographs by both emerging and established, award-winning photographers. Their work will be displayed throughout the South Bronx’s Melrose neighborhood. This year marks the 7th anniversary of LAFF, and the Festival will be expanding to five new locations in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn! The Festival includes photography from Bolivia, Peru, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, and Brazil, with work representing long-term projects on Bolivian women wearing traditional skirts or “cholas”; environmental and social damage in the Amazon; the worlds of single mothers and girls in Havana; a centuries-old ritual dance in Guatemala; a ballet school open to girls from all backgrounds in Peru; the impact of US immigration policy on migrants in Mexico; the community of Tlacotalpan, Mexico, and its river; basketball culture in Oaxaca indigenous communities; the hip hop movement in Peru; and archival images of Toñitas, a Caribbean social club in Brooklyn. As part of the Festival, the BDC will hold in-person workshops, tours, panel discussions, and other community events. The Latin American Foto Festival is curated by Cynthia Rivera and Michael Kamber.

Exhibitions, all free, are on view at the following locations:

MELROSE, BRONX:

• Bronx Documentary Center, 614 Courtlandt Ave, Bronx, NY 10451
• Bronx Documentary Center (Back patio fence), 614 Courtlandt Ave, Bronx, NY 10451
• BDC Annex, 364 E. 151st St, Bronx, NY 10455
• 151st St Community Garden, 360 E. 151st St, Bronx, NY 10455
• Immaculate Conception School (Church Fence), E. 150th x Melrose Ave, Bronx, NY 10455 • Immaculate Conception School (front of school), 378 E. 151st St, Bronx, NY 10455
• Melrose Playground Parking lot (next to BDC) 616 Courtlandt Ave, Bronx, NY 10451

JACKSON HEIGHTS, QUEENS:

• Terraza 7, 40-19 Gleane St, Queens, NY 11373

LOISAIDA, MANHATTAN:

• La Sala de Pepe, 73 Loisaida Ave, New York, NY 10009
• Piragua Art Space, 367 E 10th St, New York, NY 10009
• 9th Street Community Garden, 703 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009

LOS SURES, BROOKLYN:

• Toñita’s Caribbean Social Club, 244 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Virtual map of the festival: shorturl.at/bcX03

Photographers:

Lalo de Almeida | Brazil: Amazonian Dystopia documents the construction of the Belo Monte power plant on the Xingu River, with all the environmental and social damage that this work brought to the region.

Manuel Almenares | Cuba: “Ten years ago, I began photographing in the streets of Centro Habana to document the barrio where I live and work. Over the years, I have come to know hundreds of people and thousands of stories.”

Lisandra Alvarez | Cuba: “As a photographer, I seek out intimate moments that often go unnoticed but that connect people in their daily lives. My goal is to accentuate those elements of emotion and rawness that exist in the everyday, whether behind closed doors or on the streets of Centro Habana.”

Santiago Billy | Guatemala: ‘Palo Volador – Reaching Heaven’. Legend has it that, in the 1700s, the local chiefs of Cubulco, a village located some 450 kilometers from the city of Antigua Guatemala, all shared a dream. In this vision, St. James demanded they perform a ritual dance in which a pair of dancers would spin down from a tree using only a rope. They diligently complied and El Palo Volador, the Dance of Angels and Monkeys, was born.

Alejandro Cegarra | Mexico: The Two Walls. Mexico used to have a reputation for being a sanctuary for asylum seekers, embracing migrants with open arms. However, in the last 6 years, Mexico has served as a co-enforcer of United States anti-migration policies.

Fotokids | Guatemala: This exhibition with the Bronx Documentary Center showcases part of Fotokids’ recent 30-year Retrospective Exhibit, with some additional photos taken more recently.

Center Havana Street, 2020. Drinking water crisis during pandemic times in a neighborhood of Center Havana.
© Manuel Almenares

Magda Gibelli | Peru: “The prototype of a classical ballet dancer usually doesn’t fit the characteristic physique of Peruvians, that is a typically small stature with short neck, trunk and arms… But that should not be a stigma or a barrier.” This is how Maria del Carmen Silva, a retired Peruvian professional dancer, explains why she decided to create a ballet school for those girls whose families couldn’t afford a ballet class.

Alí Marín | Mexico: ‘En La Tierra Baja’. Those who live in the lower basin of the Papaloapan River in Veracruz, Mexico have built a very unique history, economy, culture and identity. Their lives are determined and threatened by the annual flooding of the river. However, the roots of their culture resist nature and resist oblivion.

Jorge Santiago | Mexico: ‘Identity At Play’. I grew up in Guelatao de Juárez, a village of approximately 500 people in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte. Guelatao is famous not only as the birthplace of Mexican president Benito Juárez, but also as the site of the annual Copa Benito Juárez, in which more than 300 teams of indigenous Zapotec, Mixe, and Chinantec players compete over a period of five days.

Wara Vargas | Bolivia: ‘Dream’. In the history of Latin American art, women were used as muses by artists who typically sought white women incorporating Western standards of beauty. Indigenous muses were rarely shown and indigenous women were mainly delegated to figures of servitude.

Victor Zea | Peru. ‘Rap on their Roots’. “Rap on their Roots” explores part of the hip hop movement in Peru and its diaspora which transforms the movement’s rhymes into action. Those engaged in this transformation teach a sense of resistance, community and revaluation of cultural identity.

Toñita’s | Puerto Rico: Marking 50 years as a beloved community anchor, the Caribbean Social Club stands as the last of its kind in Williamsburg’s Southside, a neighborhood almost entirely transformed. Founded by Maria Antonia Cay, affectionately known as Toñita, the club not only serves as a window to the past but also reflects larger themes of migration and displacement experienced by Latin American communities within and beyond New York City.

Ruben Soto, right, a migrant from Venezuela, with Rosa Bello, a Honduran migrant, on top of the train known as “The Beast” in Samalayuca, May 8, 2023. Ruben and Rosa met in Mexico and fell in love on their way to the United States.
© Alejandro Cegarra