The 2021 Winter issue of Aperture magazine is guest edited by UT Austin alumna Pilar Tompkins Rivas (BFA, 1997) who serves as the chief curator at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. The issue, titled “Latinx,” celebrates the dynamic visions of Latinx photography across the United States, spanning a century of image making, connecting historical and contemporary photography, and covering the themes of political resistance, family and community, fashion and culture, and the complexity of identity in American life.
In “Latinx,” Carribean Fragoza traces Laura Aguilar’s influence on queer artmaking. Joiri Minaya remixes postcards from the Dominican Republic to unveil the fantasy of tourism. Christina Catherine Martinez profiles Reynaldo Rivera, who chronicled 1990s-era Los Angeles nightlife. Yxta Maya Murry considers three Latina curators and writers influencing how photography canons are made today.
"There is no single story to tell about Latinx people. While rooted in the commonalities of heritage, transnational histories, and lived experiences, Latinx communities are heterogeneous, with shared yet pluralistic identities," Tompkins Rivas notes in her guest editor essay, "What Can Photographs Tell Us about Latinx Identity in the US?"
This complexity can make it hard to picture Latinx culture. Despite the richness and nuance of Latinx visual production, images of Latinxs in mainstream US culture and media are few and far between. Latinxs, while being a part of the fabric of the United States since its inception, and ubiquitous in urban centers and rural areas alike, are often rendered largely invisible through ongoing systems of erasure, exclusion, and disenfranchisement.
....My hope is that this issue of Aperture provides an opportunity for discovery. Photography from the nineteenth century to 2021 presents a push-pull of image making across a spectrum of history and futurity. The photographers in this issue bring visibility to Latinx experiences—from politics and bifurcated nationalisms to families and communities, from youth and counterculture to spaces of intersectional identity and expression. Collectively, their images cast a greater net for the multiple ways of seeing Latinx people, creating a visual archive whose edges are yet to be defined. As the canons of art and history must be pushed to meet the world we live in, so too must the systems that support its visual documentation—from academia, to museums, to the market, and beyond.