November 14, 2012
Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan´s speech at the opening of "Luces y Sombras: Fourteen Travelers in Mexico"; "Visions of Mexico: The Photography of Hugo Brehme" and "La Frontera: Artists on the US-Mexican Border" Exhibits at the Mexican Cultural Institute
We are delighted that you could all join us for the opening of three great exhibitions: Luces y Sombras: Fourteen Travelers in Mexico; Visions of Mexico: The Photography of Hugo Brehme and La Frontera: Artists on the US-Mexican Border.
This evening is marked by a spirit of collaboration. The Embassy of Mexico and its Cultural Institute are proud to partner with FotoWeek DC to be part of what has become a truly essential event in DC’s cultural calendar with these exhibitions.
Mexico has long-been the subject and the focus of attention of great Mexican and international photographers. Its people, its cultural and natural environment and vibrant artistic and cultural scene have been magnets for countless lenses. In this occasion, Luces y Sombras, which we present today in partnership with Bank of America, invites us to follow fourteen American photographers in Mexico and to appreciate the unique perspectives of these acclaimed outsiders. Their points of view, which intertwine and diverge throughout the 20th century, succeed not just in elevating the art of photography, but in enriching cultural understanding for those inside and outside of Mexico.
Photography, perhaps, is the ideal means to document such a complex society over time; the ever-evolving medium has grown from earnest attempts at capturing reality to include a new, contemporary language of art. Throughout Luces y Sombras, this evolution is readily apparent, from Paul Strand’s seminal Mexican Portfolio in the 1930s to Sally Gall’s dark, subterranean Thirst in 2001. Such visible evolution is testament to both the singular vision of these photographers and the rich diversity of their subject: Mexico.
Complementing an American looking glass of our rich heritage is Visions of Mexico: The Photography of Hugo Brehme, generously loaned from the collection of Spencer Throckmorton, who is here with us tonight. The work of the German-born Brehme further explores a country with an outsider’s lens, embodying the initial spirit of a traveler who journeys through Mexico to photograph its stones, land and people.
While Brehme’s work stretches from Chiapas to Chihuahua and Luces y Sombras similarly crisscrosses the country, a third traveler highlights Mexico’s symbolic terminus—the border. Stefan Falke’s La Frontera: Artists on the US-Mexican Border challenges us to conceive of the border not as a monolithic space of separation, but as a thriving cultural forum whose arts scene produces artists and musicians of increasing international renown.
Today, however, Mexico stands as much more than the vibrant culture, unique architecture, and startling landscapes inherent in these photographs; it is a global cultural superpower whose reach extends beyond borders. As such, the Embassy of Mexico encourages the presentation of private and corporate collections here at the Cultural Institute, allowing a greater public to experience Mexico’s intricate beauty and complexity. As Mexicans, we are proud of our cultural heritage, and prouder still to present this heritage to the wider international community.
I would like to thank Bank of America, Spencer Throckmorton, and Stefan Falke for providing the Mexican Cultural Institute with such peerless collections, and to Bank of America for this wonderful opening reception. The Embassy of Mexico is fortunate to have the support of this magnificent group of collectors and artists, whose images prove an outstanding representative portrait of my country. Robert Capa, one of the greatest photographers of the last century, and whose work has been closely linked to Mexico, once said that “the truth is the best picture, the best propaganda”. I am convinced that photography like the one we are showcasing today is true to its subject, and s such, it does a great job promoting Mexico.