A Respect for Light: The Latin American Photographs, 1974-2008

Leaving Cuba for the U.S. as a teen refugee, Mario Algaze grew up to become a detached yet knowing observer of the Latin American experience. His street-scene photographs span three decades and 16 countries, and the Spanish titles of most of his photographs serve as a dislocation technique, challenging the viewer to create meaning out of their "found" formalism.

While the ideal clashes with the real in most of Algaze's work, the artist does not seem to indict the poverty or desolation that he witnessed. Instead, he seems to project humor and hope: Lady Liberty, with one arm missing, holds her torch at the bottom of a dilapidated stairway; postcard images of Che and Castro wait for potential tourists in a sunlit alley; former Bolivian dictator Hugo Banzer, who lost in the 1978 election, still leaves tattered traces of his presence on a wall in La Paz (Banzer was later democratically re-elected); a dwarfed yet sturdy figure of a cotton-candy seller stands next to a young sapling, all symbols of both endurance and optimism. --Thuy Dinh, editor, Da Mau magazine

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