In the Bronx, the Latin American Foto Festival highlights resilience

In the Bronx, the Latin American Foto Festival highlights resilience
A working horse bites its tail during a break from carrying cocoa beans in a farm in Patanemo, Venezuela, on July 16, 2020. The horse is owned by the Flores family. They live off the land, since they don’t earn enough to buy food in a supermarket. They trade what they hunt and grow with other people from the area.

The Bronx Documentary Center‘s annual Latin American Foto Festival has returned for its fourth iteration, bringing with it a new host of images by photographers from Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and El Salvador. Drawn from long-term projects addressing social issues, the images cast the devastating effects of environmental and political crises alongside moments of quiet beauty.

The photographs are currently on display outdoors throughout the Melrose neighborhood in the Bronx and indoors at the Bronx Documentary Center through Aug. 1. Tours and talks with artists dot the exhibition’s event calendar, with a series of virtual conversations slated to take place July 30 through Aug. 1. A map of the exhibition can be found on the Bronx Documentary Center’s website, where a digital version of the festival will go live later in August.

July 29, 2020, Yarinacocha lake, Pucallpa, Ucayali, Peru. © Florence Goupil / National Geographic.
July 29, 2020, Yarinacocha lake, Pucallpa, Ucayali, Peru. © Florence Goupil / National Geographic.
Nahuizalco, Sonsonate, April 5, 2020. Informal vendors disinfect their bodies before entering the municipal market to sell their fruits and vegetables. © Víctor Peña/El Faro.
Nahuizalco, Sonsonate, April 5, 2020. Informal vendors disinfect their bodies before entering the municipal market to sell their fruits and vegetables. © Víctor Peña/El Faro.

A press release about the festival notes that the exhibition “reflects a historically difficult year for the region as seen through the eyes of the photographers who lived it” and “highlights the strength, resilience and innovation of inhabitants throughout Latin America.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated last year’s iteration to be held entirely outdoors, works its way into the festival’s images. On view at the Melrose Playground on Courtlandt Ave., photographs from Florence Goupil document how the Indigenous Shipibo-Konibo people in the Peruvian Amazon organized to use medicinal plants to relieve symptoms caused by the virus. Víctor Peña, whose work is on display at the Bronx Documentary Center Annex on 151st St., captures the people of El Salvador and the effects of the health and political crises in the country.

Installed at the Immaculate Conception School on 151st St., photographer and journalist Andrea Hernandez Briceño’s work depicts Venezuela’s “mango season,” which “happens every year in the dry season when the fruit starts falling from the trees, abundant and generous to those who are hungry.” In her statement about the project, the photographer notes that the season has become more important to the region over the past year as access to necessities became more difficult.

Alfred Flores, 5, holds a bunch of quenettes in Patanemo, Venezuela, on July 17, 2020. This image is part of the "Mango Season" chapter of the project "The Nature That Inhabits Us" with the collective AyŸn Fot—grafas. ©Andrea Hernández Brice–o / Emergency Fund for Journalists by the National Geographic Society.
Alfred Flores, 5, holds a bunch of quenettes in Patanemo, Venezuela, on July 17, 2020. This image is part of the “Mango Season” chapter of the project “The Nature That Inhabits Us” with the collective Ayün Fotógrafas. ©Andrea Hernandez Briceño / Emergency Fund for Journalists by the National Geographic Society.

“I made these images while walking on the streets of Caracas, the capital, and smaller towns,” Hernandez Briceño said. “On my long trips I observed that most Venezuelans eat fewer than two meals a day. People awaken late in the morning so they can skip breakfast and go directly to lunch. Water scarcity has made people bathe in nearby rivers.”

She continued: “All of this speaks not only to the national mismanagement of resources, but also to the creativity and sheer will of the people to solve everyday problems. When the economy halted this time, as it so often does, we looked outside and understood that our only chance was to go back to nature, back to our roots.”

Other images — such as Cristóbal Olivares’ portraits of Chilean protestors who suffered eye injuries at the hands of state forces — capture the ongoing consequences of environmental and political violence. The series “Resilience” by Mexican documentary photographer Victoria Razo turns its focus to women who have faced abuse to share their stories.

Nov. 20, 2019. Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. A portrait of Maria Alejandra and Kristel, two transgender women of Tz’utujil origin, observing Lake Atitlan during a sunny day. © Victoria Razo.
Nov. 20, 2019. Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. A portrait of Maria Alejandra and Kristel, two transgender women of Tz’utujil origin, observing Lake Atitlan during a sunny day. © Victoria Razo.
2015. Veracruz, Mexico. Image: Victoria Razo.
2015. Veracruz, Mexico. Image: Victoria Razo.

“In this project, I have tried to make resilience visible,” Razo said in a statement. “I portray it through the struggle of women and girls who hide their identities with masks while they march demanding justice for their sisters and friends; I photograph the pain and anger of mothers who scratch the earth to find their missing loved ones; through the women who endured domestic abuse; and in the resistance of trans women who live in violence after understanding and assuming their gender identity. The efforts made by those who seek to change history are essential.”

Curated by Michael Kamber and Cynthia Rivera, the exhibition also features artists and journalists Rodrigo Abd, Luis Antonio Rojas, Carlos Saavedra and Pablo E. Piovano.

Explore more photographs from “Latin American Foto Festival 2021” below.

Dec. 2, 2019. "Villagers take a break from cleaning oil off of freshly harvested crabs from Lake Maracaibo, in Punta Gorda, Cabimas, Venezuela. The landscape of Venezuela’s once robust oil industry lies all around fishermen and their families who live in villages clustered on the edge of the lake. Their struggles on a briny bay fouled by petroleum are etched onto their faces and stained into their clothes." © AP Photo / Rodrigo Abd.
Dec. 2, 2019. Villagers take a break from cleaning oil off of freshly harvested crabs from Lake Maracaibo, in Punta Gorda, Cabimas, Venezuela. © AP Photo / Rodrigo Abd.
Alcozacán, Guerrero, Mexico – Jan. 29, 2020: Ricardo Mendoza, a community police officer, carries the coffin of his fifteen-year-old nephew, Israel Mendoza, in a church of Alcozacán, Guerrero State, Mexico. © Luis Antonio Rojas/ The Washington Post.
Alcozacán, Guerrero, Mexico – Jan. 29, 2020: Ricardo Mendoza, a community police officer, carries the coffin of his fifteen-year-old nephew, Israel Mendoza, in a church of Alcozacán, Guerrero State, Mexico. © Luis Antonio Rojas/ The Washington Post.
Photograph of Camilo Galves. Image: Cristobal Olivares.
Photograph of Camilo Galves. Image: Cristobal Olivares.
Juana Calfunao Pailalef. Feb. 12, 2019 Commune of Cunco, province of Cautin, IX Region of Araucania, Chile. Image: Pablo Ernesto Piovano.
Juana Calfunao Pailalef. Feb. 12, 2019 Commune of Cunco, province of Cautin, IX Region of Araucania, Chile. Image: Pablo Ernesto Piovano.
March 1, 2017. Soacha, Colombia. Paola, during Ash Wednesday. © Carlos Saavedra.
March 1, 2017. Soacha, Colombia. Paola, during Ash Wednesday. © Carlos Saavedra.
A working horse bites its tail during a break from carrying cocoa beans in a farm in Patanemo, Venezuela, on July 16, 2020. This image is part of the "Mango Season" chapter of the project "The Nature That Inhabits Us" with the collective Ayün Fotógrafas. © Andrea Hernández Briceño / Emergency Fund for Journalists by the National Geographic Society.
A working horse bites its tail during a break from carrying cocoa beans in a farm in Patanemo, Venezuela, on July 16, 2020. This image is part of the “Mango Season” chapter of the project “The Nature That Inhabits Us” with the collective Ayün Fotógrafas. © Andrea Hernández Briceño / Emergency Fund for Journalists by the National Geographic Society.

Top Image: Detail of a working horse photographed as part of the "Mango Season" chapter of the project "The Nature That Inhabits Us" with the collective Ayün Fotógrafas. © Andrea Hernández Briceño / Emergency Fund for Journalists by the National Geographic Society.