Blog

The New York Times feature: Lines and Lineage

The New York Times featured my Lines and Lineage series on April 3, 2019. The article written by Simon Romero, national correspondent for the Times, is copied below:   What if Mexico Still Included California, Nevada and Texas? ALBUQUERQUE — Mention the border with Mexico these days and dystopian images might come to mind: Agents detaining children in a holding…  read more.

Art Fair

Lines and Lineage triptych at AIPAD 2019, Baudoin Lebon Gallery, booth 105 in New York

A new panoramic triptych from my Lines and Lineage series will be on display at the Baudoin Lebon gallery (booth 105) at AIPAD in New York City from April 4 to 7, 2019.

AIPAD The Photography Show 2019
Baudoin Lebon Gallery, booth 105
Pier 94, 55th Street and 12th Avenue
New York City, NY
United States

About the prints

Coronado Entrada and Border Wall, 2018
Triptych gelatin silver prints, 40 × 30 cm each (16 x 12 inches each) mounted combined size 106 x 48 cm (42 x 19 inches).

Caption: In the year 1540, eighty years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his expedition of hundreds of Spanish and indigenous people entered what is now the United States at this remote spot in Arizona, initiating centuries of Hispanic rule and cultural influence in the Southwest. In 1848, the U.S. military seized half of Mexico’s land and drew the contemporary border. Today, a barrier wall cuts through this same landscape, a deterrent for Hispanic migrants seeking to enter the U.S.

About the series

Lines and Lineage takes aim at America’s collective amnesia of history. The work addresses the missing photographic record of the period when Mexico ruled what we now know as the American West. To visualize the people and places from the remarkable yet unseen Mexican era, I chose to photograph the region with glass plates and a 19th-century wooden camera. Portraits of direct descendants of early inhabitants of the West—mestizo, Afro-Latin, indigenous, Crypto-Jewish—are are paired with photographs of landscapes inside the original border and architecture from the Mexican period. Lines and Lineage lifts the pervasive fog of dominant Western mythology and makes us question the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West.

About the show

• AIPAD’S Photography Show is the longest-running and foremost exhibition dedicated to the photographic medium, offering a wide range of museum-quality work, including contemporary, modern, and 19th-century photographs as well as photo-based art, video, and new media.

• The Baudoin Lebon Gallery was founded in 1976 in Paris. It is a leading dealer of Modern and Contemporary Art, including painting, sculpture and the most significant international photography. The gallery supports radically different works with an enlightened eclecticism.

 

Leica Akademie Workshop in Milan, Developing a Personal Project, April 27-28, 2019

  Leica Akademie Workshop –  Developing a Personal Project   Leica Store Milano Via Mengoni 4 20121 Milano Italy An in-depth personal project is often what it takes to transform a good photographer into a great one. Yet undertaking such a project can seem daunting. What are the required steps to start with an idea and build it into a…  read more.

Review: Lines in Lineage in Photograph Magazine column by Elisabeth Biondi

Photograph Magazine featured a portfolio and review of my Lines and Lineage project in their January/February 2019 issue. The column was written by Elisabeth Biondi, independent curator and the former Visuals Editor of The New Yorker. The review is copied below, and the portfolio is available only in the print issue of Photograph:   “In his latest work, Tomas van…  read more.

Group show

Lines and Lineage in New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Six gelatin silver prints from my Lines and Lineage series are on display in the group exhibition, Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls, in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City from February 14 to June 30, 2019.

The Cathedral Church of
Saint John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Avenue
at 112th Street
New York, NY 10025
USA

 

About Lines and Lineage

We often forget that the boundary between Mexico and the United States was not always where it is today. It used to be 1100 kilometers farther north, following what is now the state line between Oregon and California and running east to Wyoming before zagging southeast to Louisiana. Originally home to the indigenous peoples of the region, much of this land was Spanish and then Mexican territory for centuries before becoming what we now think of as the American West.

Spanish colonists and missionaries settled here beginning in 1598. In 1821, Mexico won independence from Spain, and by the middle of the century, it was in some ways far more advanced than its neighbor to the northeast. It abolished slavery shortly after independence; black Mexicans soon gained prominent positions, including the governorship of California. Indigenous people were given the right to vote. All this came to an end in 1848, when the United States attacked Mexico, seized half its land, and created the border that we know today.

At the time, the war on Mexico was emphatically opposed by prominent Americans, including Abraham Lincoln and John Quincy Adams. Henry David Thoreau penned his groundbreaking essay on Civil Disobedience after his arrest for nonpayment of taxes, an act of defiance of what he called an “unjust” war that aimed to “expand the slave territory.”

Mexican administration was cut short before photographic technology, revealed in Paris in 1839, arrived in the region. The well-known visual record of the American West—dominated by photos of cowboys and white settlers, the Gold Rush and the arrival of the railroads—was created after 1848. Images from the Mexican era, on the other hand, were never fixed in our memory. Using glass plates and a nineteenth-century camera to photograph landscapes along the original border and create portraits of descendants of early inhabitants, this project imagines what that history might look like. It questions the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West.

 

About Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls

The  group show focuses on the right to shelter, and beyond that, an exploration of what shelter and sanctuary mean in a world divided by sectarian discord, cultural migration, and ongoing refugee crises. Participating artists include Louise Bourgeois, Alicia Eggert, For Freedoms, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lewis Hine, John Moore, Tomas van Houtryve, and Alisha Wormsley.

Group show

Divided video installation at MoCP Chicago and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

Divided, my 2018 video installation about the Mexico-U.S. border will be on display at MoCP, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography as part of the Stateless: Views of Global Migration group exhibition from January 24, to March 31, 2019.

Museum of Contemporary Photography
600 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605
USA

It will also be exhibited at Turchin Center for the Visual Arts from 7 December, 2018 to 27 April, 2019.

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts
423 West King St.
Boone, NC 28608
USA

 

About Divided

Since Baja and Alta California were divided by the seizure of Mexican land by the United States military in 1848, a political boundary has jutted into the Pacific Ocean. Over the years, the border has been reinforced from a simple line to a fence to steel barrier. This single-channel video installation focuses on the timeless repetition of lines of waves as they crash perpendicular into the barrier. The collision of waves is mesmerizing, and we notice unified lines of waves that are divided in two.

 

Preview video of Divided

 

 

About Stateless: Views of Global Migration

While global migration has existed for tens of thousands of years, we are currently facing an unprecedentedly vast movement of people across borders. According to the UN Refugee Agency, 68.5 million people were displaced in 2018, and of that number, 25.4 million have been designated as refugees, 10 million have been left stateless, and fewer than 105,000 have been resettled. 44,400 people each day are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. Stateless: Views of Global Migrationseeks to humanize this stark data, providing an alternative visual landscape to the imagery typically associated with the current wave of global migration. Through the individual lenses of eight contemporary artists, this exhibition lays bare the contradictions inherent to the crisis, finding beauty and strength in the face of collective trauma. These powerful works of art bear witness, contemplate memory, and explore one’s connectivity to a place, even when one can no longer return. Organized by the MoCP’s executive director Natasha Egan, Stateless: Views of Global Migration addresses the individual stories that define this global human crisis.

Artists featured in the exhibition include Tomas van Houtryve, Bissane Al Charif, Daniel Castro Garcia, Leila Alaoui, Shimon Attie, Omar Imam, Fidencio Fifield-Perez, and Hiwa K.

 


Praise for Divided

“This work took a very simple concept, a border wall between two countries, and visually infused it with all the complexities of the contemporary American debate. The ‘moving picture’ that tells this story, does so in a leisurely way, but clearly one that was thought out and executed with the utmost care and attention to detail. The ‘reveal’, at the end, lingers in your mind.”

– Keith Jenkins, Director of Visual Journalism, NPR; Juror of the 2018 Producer’s Choice Award from CENTER Santa Fe.

 

“Van Houtryve filmed a short video from above the wall’s end, entitled Divided (2018), which seems almost meditative.”

– Jacqui Palumbo, Visual Culture Editor, Artsy / New York

 

Smithsonian feature: The Scars of World War I

One hundred years after the end of the First World War, I retraced the Western Front and examined how the conflict had touched my family. My journal and personal family photos were published as a mulltimedia feature by the Smithsonian to mark the centennial of the November 11, 1918 armistice. The travelogue is copied below.   I. Inspiration   I…  read more.

Group show

Lines and Lineage at Paris Photo, Galerie Baudoin Lebon, stand D02

Lines and Lineage gelatin silver prints will be on display inside the Baudoin Lebon gallery stand (D02) at Paris Photo, November 8-11, 2018.

Paris Photo
Grand Palais
Paris
France

• Paris Photo is the largest international art fair dedicated to the photographic medium and is held each November at the historic Grand Palais in Paris.

• The Baudoin Lebon Gallery was founded in 1976 in Paris. It is a leading dealer of Modern and Contemporary Art, including painting, sculpture and the most significant international photography. The gallery supports radically different works with an enlightened eclecticism.

About Lines and Lineage

We often forget that the boundary between Mexico and the United States was not always where it is today. It used to be 1100 kilometers farther north, following what is now the state line between Oregon and California and running east to Wyoming before zagging southeast to Louisiana. Originally home to the indigenous peoples of the region, much of this land was Spanish and then Mexican territory for centuries before becoming what we now think of as the American West.

Spanish colonists and missionaries settled here beginning in 1598. In 1821, Mexico won independence from Spain, and by the middle of the century, it was in some ways far more advanced than its neighbor to the northeast. It abolished slavery shortly after independence; black Mexicans soon gained prominent positions, including the governorship of California. Indigenous people were given the right to vote. All this came to an end in 1848, when the United States attacked Mexico, seized half its land, and created the border that we know today.

At the time, the war on Mexico was emphatically opposed by prominent Americans, including Abraham Lincoln and John Quincy Adams. Henry David Thoreau penned his groundbreaking essay on Civil Disobedience after his arrest for nonpayment of taxes, an act of defiance of what he called an “unjust” war that aimed to “expand the slave territory.”

Mexican administration was cut short before photographic technology, revealed in Paris in 1839, arrived in the region. The well-known visual record of the American West—dominated by photos of cowboys and white settlers, the Gold Rush and the arrival of the railroads—was created after 1848. Images from the Mexican era, on the other hand, were never fixed in our memory. Using glass plates and a nineteenth-century camera to photograph landscapes along the original border and create portraits of descendants of early inhabitants, this project imagines what that history might look like. It questions the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West.

Partnership: Paris from Above (with a Leica)

 In October, 2018, I was selected by Leica as the ambassador for the minimalist M10-D camera.  I started shooting with Leica M cameras in 1998, first with an analogue M6 and then switching to a digital M9 in 2009 so that I could transmit images quickly. Although going digital was convenient for my workflow, I soon missed the simple…  read more.