We are delighted that you could all join us for the opening of two great exhibitions: Conversación: Photo Works by Muriel Hasbun and Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, and Maremágnum by Jordi Socías, which coincide with the blockbuster Diego Rivera show that we inaugurated last night at MoMA in NYC.

This evening is marked by a spirit of collaboration in more than one way. The Embassy of Mexico and its Cultural Institute are proud to partner with FotoWeekDC once again this year to present the Conversación exhibition. Over the past four years, FotoWeek has provided audiences in Washington with an unparalleled opportunity to appreciate and celebrate photography in its variety of genres and has quickly become an essential event in DC’s cultural calendar.

We are also thrilled to work with the Corcoran Gallery and College of Art and design to co-organize the Conversación exhibition, which represents a year-long visual exchange between Muriel Hasbun, Chair of Photography at the Corcoran, and Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, one of Mexico’s most talented contemporary photographers.  Jazz player Steve Lacy once said that “it is in collaboration that the nature of art is revealed”, and I truly believe Ortiz Monasterio and Hasbun’s dialogue presented here tonight confirms this. We are delighted that both Pablo and Muriel can join us on this occasion.

We are also very pleased to provide the 4th floor gallery spaces to our colleagues from the Embassy of Spain and partnering institutions for the impressive exhibition Maremágnum by Jordi Socías. This exhibition enhances the international component of this year’s FotoWeekDC festival by presenting the work of one of Spain’s most significant and prolific photojournalists. We are honored that Jordi Socías could join us this evening.

Photography and artistic exchanges have a long and rich history in Mexico; the presence of and collaboration with international photographers has nurtured Mexico’s strong legacy to world photography.

Since the days of Edward Weston and Tina Modotti, of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, photographers from other latitudes have long been drawn to Mexico, fascinated by its people, its cultural environment and vibrant artistic and cultural scene. Interactions between artists from Mexico and abroad have always served as a creative catalyst, enhancing each other’s respective genres and serving as a poignant demonstration of the dynamic power of culture as a conveyor belt between peoples and nations.

These exhibitions represent a continuation of this successful history of collaboration; they are also a playful commentary on the meaning of art, and a refreshing example of how this medium can push to set new boundaries and thrive in the digital age. But we are also delighted to work with the Corcoran on a long-term basis, with the College’s Pittman Study Away Program, of which Pablo Ortiz Monasterio is the inaugural participant. Over the course of the next three academic years, artists from Mexico will travel to Washington as Visiting Artists at the Corcoran while they reside at this Institute as part of our Artist-in-Residence Program.

We are very excited about the prospects of this program. Partnerships like these make the Artist-in-Residence Program the cornerstone of our strategic plan to broaden our impact in the Washington, DC area and boost our ability to foster understanding between the peoples of the United States and Mexico. We truly appreciate the Corcoran’s efforts to make this possible, both through the Pittman Study Away Program and their generous support in furnishing the Carriage House at the rear of the Institute to host the Artists-in-Residence.

Robert Capa was one of the greatest photographers of the last century, and his work has been closely linked to Mexico, both during his career and in recent years, as thousands of his negatives taken during the Spanish Civil War were recovered in Mexico in 2007, a story told by the riveting documentary The Mexican Suitcase. Capa once said that “If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough.” I think the same thing can be said about artistic and institutional collaboration: it needs to be close enough to be good. We at the Embassy and its Cultural Institute firmly believe in joining forces with other institutions and organizations in the DC area not only to increase intercultural understanding but also to forge lasting partnerships within the community. I believe the exhibitions opening this evening embody these objectives, and represent a great example of the kinds of things we can achieve when we work together.