COMD 2330 Digital Photography

Alex Webb : La Calle, Photographs from Mexico

On Thursday September the 22nd. of September 2016 (9/22/2016) the Digital Photography class COMD 2330 had the opportunity to go to the Aperture Foundation to take a look at the exhibit by Alex Webb titled; “La Calle, Photographs from Mexico”. The exhibition space was a well-lit gallery and the photographs were fairly large, mostly 16″ x 20″ and 20’ x 24” C prints. All of the photographs were in wooden frames of light tone with borders. In addition to the exhibit there was also a section that had a wide selection of the many books printed by the Aperture Foundation. The Foundation has been printing books on photography for quite a long time. Most, if not all of these books are widely distributed in museums, libraries and bookstores all over the city. Before looking at the exhibit we had a chance to take a quick look at some of the books available on display and for sale. Mr. Webb had a few books that were available. Mr Webb has done quite a lot of work in black and white but for his work in Mexico he has worked exclusively with color. There were many books on photography and photographers from many countries. We waited for a few minutes before an intern from the Foundation came along, introduced herself and walked us through the exhibit. We started going through the exhibit in a clockwise manner, starting at the left and going in the right direction. The first wall was short and this was followed by two longer walls. There were more photographs in a t-shaped wall and There were many photographs in the exhibit but I did not take the time to count how many, and I do not recall seeing a tally in the informational printout of the exhibit.

Almost all of the work were done outdoors, and all of the people and places that Mr. Webb took photographs of appeared to be poor and maybe working class. We do not see in this exhibit any well-dressed people, modern architecture or anything that may be considered a middle-class setting. I consider this to be an important decision for Mr. Webb since a very large section of the Mexican population live in poverty and would consider poverty to be a theme of this exhibit. Since the title of the exhibit is “La Calle” all of the photographs were made in an urban setting. Most of the photographs I recall having people in them and just a small number of them did not.

Mr. Webb’s work is exquisite and he has a great talent for taking his photographs at just the right time. His compositions were very carefully composed, but there was also a sense of spontaneity in almost all of them. My favorite photograph showed several people mourning what appears to be the death of what may be a family member. This a very sad picture but I like it because it seems to be very realistic. This is a dramatic picture that reveals a major social problem in Mexico. Murder and the effects of a drug war is one of the persistent problems in Mexico in recent times, and this picture is an accurate description of that social problem. This photograph may help the rest of the world to understand how pervasive this issue happens to be in Mexico and I commend Mr. Webb for taking it and the curator for including it in this exhibit.

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