Clap!: a book that offers a road-map of Latin American image-makers and creators
Is it possible to talk about trends when speaking about photography made in Latin America? What are the similarities and differences between the work done by photobook makers from Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico or Venezuela? Is there a traceable DNA in the images produced in this American region? What do photographers from this part of the world feel they need to document? These are some of the questions that come up while browsing through Clap! 10 x 10 Contemporary Latin American Photobooks 2000-2016, a catalogue of photobooks from Latin America recently released by 10 x 10 Photobooks ( New York City, 2017)
Editors Russet Lederman, Olga Yatskevich and Mathew Carson emphasize in the introduction, the spirit of this joint effort, described as “a project that shares the vast wealth found in today’s Latin American photobook scene, aimed at an audience from North America and beyond (…) we are merely mapping the landscape and creating an initial atlas of photobook-making in Latin America”.
Through ongoing discussions with photobook makers, 16 specialists were invited to participate in the making of Clap!. Acting as curators, working individually or in pairs, they selected 10 photobooks each, from creations edited between 2000 and 2016. The process resulted in a varied selection of 136 photobooks that were showcased in a Reading Room that first opened at the PGH Photo Fair at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and later travelled to the Aperture Foundation in New York City and to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
As a concept, “the reading room is a hands-on opportunity for North American audiences to browse a range of recently published books from Latin America that are rarely seen or available in the U.S.” The travelling reading room will conclude its tour at FoLA: Fototeca Latinoamericana in Argentina, from 29 November to December 3, 2017. All the books in the CLAP! reading room were donated as a complete collection to the Hirsch Library at the MFAH in March 2017.
After launching the reading room, the organizers released CLAP! as a catalogue of the selection of photobooks, attempting to embrace the diversity of the region, condition that is transferred to the design and the visuals of this book-object, and complemented with essays by the curators and experts participating in the project, among them Luis Weinstein and Joaquim Marcal F. de Andrade.
According to Ricardo Báez, CLAP! curator and graphic designer, “the publication is a portable reading room in itself (…) The design of the catalogue seeks to mirror the euphoria around the photobook as a genre, showing a huge constellation of books, including well known photobooks but also lesser known for the majority (…) it is a sort of historical photobook that complements the history of photography from a peripheral point of view“, he stated in an interview for Joia Magazine.
Diana Rangel, a photographer that takes part in the curatorial team, focused her selection on Venezuelan photobook projects made by artists not yet in the international radar. “This is a selection of photobooks that truly represents an authentic grassroots community that is happening in Venezuela today”. For Rangel the experience with CLAP! was revelatory and stimulating: “Browsing CLAP!, the book, and also spending hours in a reading room, felt like an invitation to continue researching on photobook production in Latinamerica. One feels definitely compelled to keep the track of every author, to follow upon their work and creations”.
Interested in getting their hands on a volume of CLAP! Visit Clap!