The Great depression documentary and photography at IVAM Valencia

 

 

 

The financial meltdown after the crash of the US stock market in 1929 starts one of the saddest periods in our recent history, in contrast to the so-called "happy 20s", full of optimism of the middle classes in the welfare state. The Great Depression, however, was time of hunger, forced migration, of unemployment rates never seen before, the American dream vanished... and there was a new style of photography, "Photography of the truth" .

 

 

Before, photography had sought pictorialism and the formal complexity of Soviet avant-garde (photomontage, new vision, ...). Now, photographers portrayed the changes in American popular culture with simplicity and sharpness, checking reality without additives.

 

 

 

 

Now, the IVAM of Valencia collects these portraits and life stories, these landscapes that allowed us - the future generations- to know the depth of the US economic crisis of the 30s in an exhibition entitled "Documentary Photography in America. 30s".

 

 

 

 

A selection of 200 photos of some of the most important photographers of the time as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Carl Mydans, Arthur Rothstein, Jack Delano, Marion Post, Gordon Parks and Russell Lee, all members of the program of the Farm Security Administration (FSA. 1935-1944), developed within the Roosevelts's New Deal to "demonstrate graphically how his people rose from poverty", explains Ramón Escrivá IVAM conservative, but, in contrast, was the largest coral portrait of desolation, misery and the emancipation of the American farmer with clean portraits of the first immigrants arrived at Ellis Island, working children, starving mothers, evicted families...

 

 

 

 

Escriva emphasizes that "it is the first time that someone carries out such a study of documentation like this in Spain". A project - the FSA - that recorded more than 270,000 images (nowadays, 170,000 of these photographs are preserved by the American Congress), of the rural farmers and peasants of the United States, plus the identity of a country that had broken its pattern of life.

 

 

 

To contextualize the works on display, the exhibition includes documentary films, illustrated magazines of the time like Life, Look, or Fortune and photo books, as the first made by the MOMA in New York in 1938. These media were instrumental in spreading the project FSA and an essential documentation to understanding the political propaganda of the time.

The CEART opens this Thursday, November 14th in the room A an exhibition dedicated to this master of photography, which will be open to the public until February 9th. The show includes one of the artist's latest projects, focused on the hard work carried out by the miners of Serra Pelada, an open gold mine in the heart of Brazil where employees daily risked their lives.

Immigration, poverty, marginal life, slave labour, man's relationship with the land, the use of natural resources... are issues that have always fascinated Salgado. From the beginning of his career as a photographer, his work has opted to give visibility to the most disadvantaged groups and to create with his images a vivid and impressive visual story without fakes. With a raw black and white, this author's work transits between photo-reportage and naturalistic photography.

And the idea that permeates all his work is human dignity. Salgado portrays employees, miners and gatherers from a purely humanistic approach that wants to value their integrity, their strength and their resilience.

“If you photograph a human, so that he is not represented in a noble way, there is no reason to take the picture. That is my way of seeing things.”

Salgado entered this discipline long after completing his studies in economics between Brazil and the United States, and a doctorate in statistics in France. But in 1973 his life took a turn, and he decided to start his career as a photographer. He achieved to work at the Gamma Agency and Magnum Photos for more than 15 years until in 1994 he founded his own agency “Amazonas Imagen”.

With the “Gold” project, the photographer portrays a harsh reality that takes place in the Serra Pelada mine, a name given to a totally devastated and anarchically excavated mining enclave, the world's largest open-pit gold mine, through which more than 50,000 people have passed. In the heat of the legends about the mysterious “El Dorado”, the enthusiasm for this precious metal led to the development of strenuous exploitation practices for the workers and to originate tales of grief and glory, of human victory and defeat between the soil, the tunnels and the cargo baskets.

The CEART exhibition brings together Salgado's full portfolio in his characteristical black and white and large-format photographs that leave no one indifferent.