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Imagining Guatemala

Photographs from the CIRMA Collection 1850-2006

September 20, 2007 - November 25, 2007

Curated by Tani Marilena Adams, Imagining / Imaginando Guatemala invites the viewer to walk through 150 years of photographs which portray how the image of that country has evolved in the eyes of over 50 national and foreign photographers.  It was organized by the Center for Regional Research on Mesoamerica (CIRMA), in Antigua Guatemala, dedicated since 1978 to the documentation of contemporary society and history of Central America. CIRMA holds the most comprehensive collection of photographs of Guatemala in existence. 

The exhibition opens with the earliest images produced in Guatemala – portraits of the national elite – and moves quickly to photojournalistic images of social conflict and daily life in the early 20th century.  Early ethnographic images of indigenous Guatemalans produced for export to Europe and the US contrast sharply with the dignified studio portraits commissioned by middle class indigenous clients just decades later.  One section explores how photography was used to sell Guatemala to the outside world in the late 19th century – to attract foreign investment, tourism, and European immigrants, as well as indentured laborers from Asia and the South Pacific.  Another section shows how social and political unrest builds from the 1940’s into the 30 year long internal armed conflict which ended just ten years ago in 1996, taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and leaving behind a culture permeated by militarism and violence.  The final section gives voice to contemporary Guatemalan photographers who express the major themes of contemporary life in diverse and innovative ways that both challenge and dialogue with the ideas inherited from the past. 

Mario Adler, Julio Cesar Anzueto, Andrea Aragon, Jennifer Boch, Hugo Boston, Ange Bourda, William Claudio Buchanan, Moisés Castillo, Daniel Chauche, Mitchell Denburg, Ramiro Diaz Pinot, Emilio Eichenberger, Gustav August Eisen, Fernandez Y Valdeavellano, Marlon Garcia, Raul Gonzalez Garza, Luis Gonzalez-Palma, Guillermo Gutierrez, Daniel Hernandez-Salazar, Jose Leon Imeri, Juan Jose de Jesús Yas, Kildare & Valdeavellan, Martin Lopez, Teobert Maler, Ricardo Mata, Alfred Percival Maudslay, Teodoro Miltz, Jonathan Moller, Jorge Morales, Nancy Morales, Rafael Morales G., Sylvanus Morley, Joaquin Francisco Muñoz, Eadweard Muybridge, Jose Domingo Noriega, Maria Christina Orive,  Renato Osoy, Manuel Paz, Jaime Permuth, Emilio Herbruger Rietbrock, Oscar Saavedra, Marcelo Salinas, Viviano Salvatierra, Jose Garcia Sanchez, Jose Manuel Mayorga Saravia, Sandra Sebastián, Pablo Sittler, Diana de Solares, Agostino Someliani, Irene Torrebiarte, Alberto G. Valdeavellano, Emilio Herbruger Wheling, and Tomasso Zanotti.

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of Azúcar de Guatemala, Caniz International Corporation, FAIM, the Fundacion G & T Continental, the Inter American Development Bank Cultural Center, Liztex, Merrill Lynch, the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala, the Paiz Foundation for Education and Culture, the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the OAS, Ron Zacapa Centenario, the United States Embassy in Guatemala.