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Indepth Arts News:

"Tina Modotti, Photographs 1924-1929"
2002-10-09 until 2002-11-09
Bishop's University Art Gallery
Lennoxville, QC, CA

Modotti's photographic production started around 1924 and ended in the early thirties. Her journey began in 1921, when she linked up with photographer Edward Weston. They moved together to Mexico City, he to pursue his aesthetic and photographic research, she to adopt the role of apprentice and assistant.

The apprentice quickly mastered the medium and developped a very personal style, both formally and technically. Weston's influence was undeniable and Mexican avant-garde artists also helped to shape her artistic vision.

Modotti's early work was in the style of pure photography and precisionism of the American avant- garde. She perfected the specificity of the photographic rendering: geometrical, elementary, abstract compositions; extremely precise focus ; play of texture, shadows, and light; familiar objects isolated and placed in new perspectives. In 1924-1925 Modotti became interested in flowers and created a fascinating body or work issuing from an interior, paradisiacal world, Calla Lillies, Roses, Geranium, Flor de manito. During the same period, swept up in the same photographic intensity, she produced Interior of Church, Arch, Sugar canes, Doors and Staircases in which she experimented with shot angles, detail, and closed-ups.

At the time, Mexico was undergoing a great cultural renewal - Mexican renaissance - promoting "Mexicanity" in reaction to the exoticism that prevailed, for breathing new life into traditional art; the muralist production was the movement‚s most obvious expression. Modotti emerged from her studio to photograph the murals. As well, she broadened the field of her subject matter, exploring urban and industrial themes in more depth.

In 1927-1929, the works of Modotti became clearly more social and revolutionary. She photographed street scenes: mothers and their children peasants demonstrating workers bowed under the weight of their loads. Modotti was the official photographer of the newspaper El Machette, the communist party's organ edited by left-wing and avant-garde artist and intellectuals. She produces a series of photographs in which her social preoccupations and formal research were amalgamated.

Modotti‚s art testifies to the social upheavals of the beginning of century. The photographer connected two seemingly opposed fields: politics and art. She assembled typical object of Mexican culture in compositions stripped of exoticism to illustrate an ideological standpoint.

Organised by the Louise Bédard Danse Company, the exhibition is presented in conjonction with ELLES, a dance performance directed and interpreted by Louise Bédard. Inspired by the work of Tina Modotti, the choreographer took the strong images of Modotti‚s life, era and adopted country, Mexico, and put them into movement. The performance will take place at Centennial Theatre, Saturday November 9, at 8pm. Lucie Bureau, Guess Curator of the exhibit, will be the guess for the P‚tites causeries held an hour before the performance, at 7pm.

Guest Curator talk: Thursday, October 24, 2002 at 1:00pm at the Art Gallery of Bishop's University Lucie Bureau will be available for phone interviews

Tina Modotti, Woman playing guitar,
Mexico, 1928.
Gelatin silver print/Épreuve gélatino-argentique, 8 x 10".
Fototeca del INAH Collection/Collection de la Fototeca del INAH.

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