In the turbulent 1970s, pre-eminent photographers with an interest in portraying Latin America through a political and critical gaze made a series of publications. Paolo Gasparini and Enrique Bostelmann were among those who realised projects in ambitious photobooks that spanned Latin American geography panoramically, and upon embarking on long journeys they sought to use their images to build a sensitive and socially committed cartography with this territory.
Inside the region’s different contexts, photography was ultimately the preferred medium for capturing and exposing the harsh social contradictions and rapid changes experienced by societies in many countries in a short space of time. Resulting from the accelerated processes of industrialisation, urban development brought about a sweeping exodus of rural populations, leading to the rapid, exponential growth of major cities like Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Chile, Mexico City, Lima and São Paulo. If on one side modern architecture and urban planning epitomised developmentalist ideals, then, on the other, the camera lens recorded the consequences of unfinished processes of modernisation, those which condemned Latin American countries to poverty and dependence on economic centres.
Some of these visual documents were assembled to make photobooks; that is, publications that sequence and scale images — sometimes alongside text — to give them rhythm and a narrative sense and to keep internal unity, multiplying the possible readings of photographs. Latin American photobooks in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that survived censorship were key to mobilising protests and the transmission of knowledge, both locally and internationally, in different social contexts. Today, these publications offer the chance, retrospectively, to delve deeper into the historical implications of each of these political, social and economic processes.
This room, therefore, brings together a series of publications from different countries in this geographical area. In recent years, the Museo Reina Sofía, in collaboration with the Museo Reina Sofía Foundation, has set in motion the acquisition of Latin American photobooks and cultivated the development of a line of research around this medium of expression and creation, its variety and interest apparent across the entire territory through publications produced in Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina and Chile. In addition to the incorporation of these books, the Museo has added original photographs and mock-ups to its Collection, thereby completing and enriching the ensemble.