Is all art political? How do social and economic changes influence artists? “Point/Counterpoint: Contemporary Mexican Photography 2000-2015,” an ambitious exhibition at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in San Diego, which opens September 30 and runs until February 11, 2018, features 19 image-based artists who have been working in Mexico during a time of change. The images and installations in the show were made in Mexico after the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost its hold on national power after 71 years and regained it with the 2012 election of Enrique Peña Nieto. Works in the show explore themes of personal and national identity, class and economic inequality, the power of tradition and the embrace of modernity. Some of the artists use abstraction or staged fictions to consider the nature of representation or the truthfulness of imagery. Despite the subtlety of some of the images, the exhibition as a whole conveys a sense of a society grappling with uncertainty.
Photojournalist Guillermo Arias takes a straightforward approach to documenting the drug wars and the government’s crackdowns on crime. Conceptual photographer and video maker Teresa Margolles, a former forensic pathologist, takes a more metaphorical approach to exploring death and violence; she has incorporated surgical thread and human remains into her work memorializing crime victims. Maya Goded works on the border of documentary and art photography in her studies of women’s roles in society. The subjects in Yvonne Venegas’s photos play the parts of wealthy residents of an exclusive, gated community. Alejandro Laviada assembles and photographs sculptures on sites in Mexico City slated for demolition or redevelopment. Other artists in the show include Alex Dorfsman, Daniela Edburg, Dr. Lakra, Patricia Martin, Daniela Rossell and the late José Luís Cuevas.
“Point/Counterpoint” is supported by Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an initiative by the Getty Museum to sponsor exhibitions of Latin American art at about two dozen institutions throughout Southern California. From November through January, MOPA will host discussions with curators and experts about themes touched on in this wide-ranging show. —Holly Stuart Hughes
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