Tag Archives: Film

Photography: Cartier-Bresson Exhibition in Mexico City

The Mexico City exhibition featuring 398 pieces by French photographer-filmmaker Henri Cartier-Bresson closes May 17, 2015 at Palacio Bellas Artes. Please don’t miss it. Considered the founder of photojournalism, this is the first major retrospective since his death in 2004.

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An hour is not long enough to absorb the emotional intensity of Cartier-Bresson’s work. If you love political history, photojournalism, the decades leading up to World War II and the beginning of photography as an important artistic and cultural vehicle for storytelling, you will love this exhibition. I needed more than two hours to do it justice.

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It represents Cartier-Bresson’s interest in painting, drawing, photography and filmmaking. It is an in-depth view of pre and post-World War Europe, of poverty and racism, of what happens on the street among the people. There are also amazing portraits of notables who he was commissioned to photograph.

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Oaxaca Day of the Dead Photography Workshop, October 2015

Chiapas Festivals and Faces Photography Workshop, January 2016

For example, the exhibit features photographs taken during the coronation of King George II of England. But Cartier-Bresson concentrates on the expressions of people in the crowd and not the regal procession. Some are using raised mirrors to watch the parade, and to do so, they must turn their backs to the King.


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Cartier-Bresson uses this as a metaphor for how the people must turn away from monarchy and embrace a republican government.

Program Notes: Impressions of Africa. “He took little interest in local customs or ritual feasts, as he did not want to get drawn into “Exoticism” or what he called “detestable local colour.”  In a style very much influenced by the European New Vision (high angle shots, geometrical compositions, repeating motifs) he tended to photograph subjects like children playing in the street, dockers at work or the effort of rowers in a boat: in other words, the rhythm of African life.

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Aligned with the intellectuals and artists of the time, he was a powerful voice in support of Communism, active in the Spanish Civil War and the French Resistance.

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As a contemporary of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Cartier-Bresson came to Mexico to photograph, and many of the images shown capture the poor and disenfranchised, including children and prostitutes.

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As I moved through the exhibition, I learned more about photography by seeing this work. Cartier-Bresson shunned fiestas and processions, the formalities of organized life. He concentrated on what was messy and spontaneous.

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His technique was to find a backdrop with texture and interest that he liked and then wait for people to pass through the space.

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As we walked from Palacio Bellas Artes to see the Diego Rivera mural Dream of a Sunday Afternoon on the Alameda, I stopped to take photos of young men practicing their skateboard moves a la Henri Cartier-Bresson — perhaps — and a man sitting on a steel post mid-sidewalk, waiting, surrounded by passersby who paid no attention.

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The Decisive Moment, an essay by Cartier-Bresson, describes his philosophical approach to photography and is considered a foundation for all photographers.

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Oaxaca Day of the Dead Film in Production

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca is celebrated with energy, solemnity, respect, and joy. That’s why we focus on it with Day of the Dead Photography Expedition workshop. Still a few places open!

A couple of weeks ago, University of Wisconsin-Madison textile and design associate professor Carolyn Smythe Kallenborn sent me an announcement of her upcoming film, Life and the Dead.

Yesterday, when she came to the casita for dinner with Ale, Tito, Liliana, Santiago, Claudia, Fe and Lola, Carolyn talked more about how she plans to integrate an exhibition of traditional Oaxaca textiles with the video.

The film will be available in October 2014.

About Immigration, “The Girl” Movie Opens This Weekend, Filmed in Oaxaca

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez from Democracy Now interview independent film maker David Riker and award-winning Australian actress Abbie Cornish who made a movie about what it means to be involved in the human trafficking of undocumented immigrants who do America’s work.

The Girl is an intimate story that reminds us that Mexicans and Central Americans are the people who care for our children, tend our gardens, and  work in our fields to provide us with food.  The story is told from the point-of-view of a young Texas woman who unwittingly becomes involved with The Girl, portrayed by Maritza Santiago from Oaxaca.  Maritza was selected from 3,000 girls who tried out for the part when she was nine years old.

If you don’t do anything else today, please watch this video clip interview below and when the full-length feature film comes your way, please see it. Thank you!  Opens March 8 in New York and March 16 in Los Angeles.

The Girl is a microcosm. Here in Oaxaca and in our village — in fact in most villages throughout the state, men and women leave their families behind to find work, send money home to support their families, and suffer incredible hardship. I know people who have been left behind and many who have gone to the U.S. and returned. They are honorable, decent and hardworking people who are family centric. It is a tragedy that the United States does not have a more human immigration policy.

Archives of American Art historic film footage from 1930’s Mexico: A rare delight

From the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art, here is rare and restored footage of 1930’s Mexico, filmed by expatriate artists Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo while they were living in Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico and visiting Tehuantepec, Oaxaca.  Thanks to Patricia Thompson, a Oaxaca Cultural Navigator blog follower for bringing A rare delight: Mexican home movies from the 1930’s to my attention. The film footage (a bit over 33 minutes) and accompanying article are so wonderful, I want to pass it on to you to enjoy as part of Mexican cultural history. Several of the nine film clips are in color, unusual for home movies at the time. The movies are part of a collection that includes correspondence, writings, art work, photographs, printed material and financial and legal records that document the artistic, teaching, and journalism careers of husband and wife Stephan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo.

To put the footage in context, during the era that Hirsch and Rogo filmed, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were living and working in Mexico City, and the Fred Davis and William Spratling silversmith workshops were active and training the next generation of master Mexican silversmiths in Taxco. At the same time, Lazaro Cardenas was elected president of Mexico. Cardenas instituted sweeping land reforms turning over control of agricultural land to peasants, and established state ownership of the petroleum industry removing American corporate ownership of the national resource.

If you see something in the news that you think would be of interest to our readers, please let me know so I can share it!  And, we have TWO SPACES LEFT in our Day of the Dead Photography Expedition starting October 28.  Come along.

And, just in from fellow blogger Shannon Pixley Sheppard on Oaxaca’s latest archeological discovery, burial remains in Santa Maria Atzompa.  So much to love about Mexico!


University of Wisconsin Hosts Oaxaca Weaver Tito Mendoza, October 7-12, 2011

News and Events:  Oaxaca, Mexico weaver and artist Erasto “Tito” Mendoza will be in Madison and Whitewater, Wisconsin, October 7-12, 2011, to discuss and demonstrate tapestry weaving techniques.


For weaver Erasto “Tito” Mendoza, weaving is more than a skill passed down through the generations of his Zapotec family.  It is an art form that combines complexity of design, integration of traditional, ancient indigenous patterns with imagination and a contemporary sensibility. The result is a magnificent rendering of color, texture, pattern and interpretation.

Tito with his award-winning rug, Aires Zapotecos

The singer-songwriter Lila Downs has commissioned numerous pieces from Tito that are used in her performances and for public relations events.  His work, “Aires Zapotecos” was a finalist in the VI International Biennale of Contemporary Textile Art.  In 2010, Tito was invited to the juried and very selective Santa Fe International Folk Art Festival to show and sell his work. Carolyn Kallenborn, faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chose Tito to feature in her documentary film Vidas Entretejidas–Woven Lives about Oaxaca and its weaving culture.  He was one of six great Oaxaca weavers who were selected.

Lila Downs wearing a Tito Mendoza sarape, photo by Norma Hawthorne

Tito and his wife, Alejandrina Rios, who own the El Nahual Gallery on Av. 5 de Mayo in the Centro Historico of Oaxaca. will be in Wisconsin for the week of October 7-12.  If you live anywhere in driving distance, I urge you not to miss this opportunity to meet them, chat and hear about their work.

An innovative tapestry by Tito Mendoza

Schedule of Events

Friday, October 7, 5:00 p.m. — Centro Hispano, Madison, WI, 810 Badger Road, http://micentro.org/ — Free and open to the public.  A conversation with Tito and Ale and filmmaker Carolyn Kallenborn.  At 6:00 p.m. there will be a screening of the film Vidas Entretejidas–Woven Lives in Spanish with English subtitles.

Friday, October 7, 7:00 p.m., Madison Weaver’s Guild — Oakwood Village, 5565 Tancho Drive, Madison.  Contact Pat Hilts, vlhilts@wisc.edu, with discussion and screening of Vidas Entretejidas–Woven Lives in English.  The event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, October 11, 3:30 p.m., University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, University Center Room 266, film screening and discussion, free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 12, 1:20-3:50 p.m., UW-Madison Design Studies Department Weaving Class — Tito Mendoza will give a demonstration of tapestry weaving.

Carolyn’s film also features Federico Chavez Sosa, master weaver of Teotitlan del Valle.  Translation assistance was provided by Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, and Janet Chavez Santiago, education coordinator at the Centro Académico y Cultural San Pablo.

For information, contact:

Carolyn Kallenborn, cmkallen@wisc.edu

Film Website: www.wovenlivesoaxaca.com

Tito and Ale’s Oaxaca Gallery: www.elnahualfolkart.blogspot.com

and their email address:  elnahual75@prodigy.net.mx