The Aperture Foundation, located on West 27th Street in the Chelsea area. Currently, the exhibition displayed is Alex Webb: La Calle, Photographs from Mexico. The exhibit is located on the 4th floor. When you walk out of the elevator onto the 4th floor, the first thing you notice is the immense amount of books and magazines to the left. Also, there is a reception desk and a small sit down area. At the reception desk, you can inquire information and even make a book/magazine purchase. There are publications from many different photographers, from photo books with little to no text, to photo essay books with large bodies of text. Moving along, to the right is the gallery area. On each of the light colored walls are 3 to 4 framed images, some images larger than the other. To be honest, I never even heard about the Aperture Foundation until we went on this class trip, but I can say that my experience was pretty awesome. It definitely opened my eyes to how powerful and artistic photography can be. Each of Webb’s photos told a story, brought out different feelings, and captured a decisive moment, a moment in time.
In this exhibit, Alex Webb captures more than 30 years worth of photography from the streets of Mexico, spanning from 1975 to 2007. His photographs demonstrate a different point of view that brings about the reality of it all. It brings about the different lifestyles, the different raw emotions of the people, and the reality that even during the darkest times, there will be light. Looking through the photos, I could feel this sense of sadness and grief, but I could also sense happiness. I’m sure that Webb was able to sense these feelings as well. The way I see it, his approach was to wait for the right moment. The precise moment in time where the feelings of that moment would shine through. Alex Webb’s Mexico is the living reality, that not everything is what it seems. His Mexico will open your eyes and make you question what you really knew about Mexico before.
The one photograph at the exhibit that stood out to me was Alex Webb’s Ciudad Mexico, DF, 1984. I love the great use of layers, from the foreground to the background. The little girl on the bottom left being in the foreground. The two girls and the girl facing the tree with her hands behind her back in the middle ground. Lastly, the other children and trees in the background. In the background, it seems like there is this hill to get to the top where the other trees are. There is a great use of sunlight, capturing the dark shadow silhouettes and creating contrast. I like that this photo can be interpretive, meaning that you can try to make out the situation in this photo. The expression on the little girl’s face in the foreground is very defined. Her expression can be interpreted as angry or curious. She could be upset at the girl facing the tree in the middle ground. The girl facing the tree has her hands behind her back as if she was being punished, like taking a time-out. Then, you have everything else going on around them. The two girls on the side playing, the other children in the back. Although, you can’t really make out what the other children in the back are doing. That aside, overall, Alex Webb utilizes his composition very well in this photograph.
Layers is a good word to use when describing the work of Alex Webb. He uses the frame to bring disparate elements together and that creates opportunities for storytelling. As you say you aren’t sure exactly what is the story in this photo of kids playing but the photo does take you into the emotional life of these kids as it does the other people he photographs.