Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Speaker: Paula Kupfer
Paula Kupfer will present research on the Mexican photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo in a paper entitled “Ecocritical Constructions: Lola Álvarez Bravo’s Mexican Paisajes,” at the SAH Annual Conference in April, as part of the panel “Earthly Desires: Ecofeminism and Spatial Histories,” cochaired by Drs. Mina Rajagopalan and Shundana Yusaf.
Summary: In 1954, the Mexican artist Lola Álvarez Bravo (1907–93) devised an intricate photomontage titled Paisajes de Mexico (Landscapes of Mexico). Arranged on two crossed diagonal axes, depictions of a Mayan temple and Toltec column appear alongside a midcentury-modern private residences, colonial-era aqueducts and churches, and Latin America’s newest, tallest skyscraper, the Torre Latinoamericana—all set in midst of dense patches of forest, snaking maguey cacti, volcanic lava fields, and snowy mountain peaks. I propose that this unpopulated landscape, believed to be a study for a large photographic mural, drives forward an ecocritical perspective by offering a history of modernity told through the atemporal juxtaposition of architectural, vegetative, and geologic environment. In her photomontages, Alvarez Bravo embodied strategies of reuse and remixing of existing images, conveying an ecosophical praxis, and demonstrated ways in which she mobilized her knowledge and active participation in male-dominated architectural discourse in midcentury Mexico towards an innovative and idiosyncratic vision.
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