Aperture Fall 2019

Founded in 1952, Aperture is an essential guide to the world of contemporary photography that combines the finest writing with inspiring photographic portfolios. Each issue examines one theme explored in “Words,” focused on the best writing surrounding contemporary photography, and “Pictures,” featuring immersive portfolios and artist projects.

United States
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in this issue

3 min
agenda exhibitions to see

Alinka Echeverría During a 2015 research residency at the Musee Nicephore Niepce—a French museum devoted to Joseph-Nicephore Niepce, who is often credited as the inventor of photography—Mexican British artist Alinka Echeverria employed an intersectional feminist lens to recontextualize the museum’s colonial archives. With a background in social anthropology, she studies historical representations of women in photography, using collage to liberate and reframe these images. Echeverria’s upcoming show at the Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal, Simulacres, revisits her work on Niepce to pose critical conversations between archival images of women and vases from the museum’s collection. “Alinka’s work not only addresses questions of the feminine but also the question of the ‘other’ as objects of colonial study,” says Maria Wills Londono, curator of the exhibition. “She works in collages—tearing images, taking objects,…

4 min
spotlight mark mcknight

“I think we’re all constantly on the precipice of becoming another thing,” the photographer Mark McKnight says. A logic of transformation—of metaphor—animates his defiantly analog, large-format, black-and-white photographs. A torn bag of asphalt suggests the broken flesh of an animal; a blistered wall rhymes with a man’s mottled back; the play of light across tar reveals a cosmos. Bodies, landscapes, buildings are depicted in a way that makes them nearly interchangeable, equivalent to the eye and also, disquietingly, to our sympathy, so that traces of adhesive on a wall might be scars from a severed limb. The extraordinary energy of McKnight’s images comes from a harnessing of contrary, even contradictory, forces. McKnight, who was born in Los Angeles, in 1984, chooses as his subjects men he knows and frequently is attracted…

2 min
rediscovered books and writings

Fifty years ago, in February 1969, black student activists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison called a strike against racism, demanding more African American students and faculty, more relevant courses, and amnesty for black protesters. This extraordinary weeklong demonstration, which culminated in a standoff between over ten thousand students and about nineteen hundred fully armed National Guard soldiers, is succinctly documented in a small but powerful forty-page photobook titled On Strike: Shut It Down (1969), published within weeks of the confrontation by local photojournalist Richard Faverty, with pithy text by Joel Brenner, editor of the university’s student newspaper. The protest was part of the nationwide Black Campus Movement, which exploded in the year following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968. African American students at Wisconsin–Madison first staged…

5 min
a list of favorite anythings

“Every documentary body of work is made with the intention of it becoming a book in its final manifestation,” says Max Pinckers. The Brussels-based photographer, who was raised in Asia and Australia, has self-published five books of photographs made in India, North Korea, Thailand, and the United States—all since 2012. Though Pinckers’s work broadly falls into the category of documentary photography, he doesn’t believe in objectivity or neutrality. His recent series Margins of Excess (2018) responds to a “post-truth” world. Considering people who have been called out as frauds—a white woman who pretended to be black, an author who fabricated a Holocaust memoir—Pinckers combines press clippings and intentionally misleading staged photographs to question the fluidity of meaning. Francis Alÿs, When Faith Moves Mountains, 2002 Belgian artist Francis Alys addresses urgent social, political,…

3 min
mexico city

“Mexico City, as we all know, is a small town of fourteen million,” Roberto Bolano wrote in The Savage Detectives, set in the 1970s and one of the great novels about the sprawling capital. As in Bolano’s day, the city continues to host a thriving and cosmopolitan cultural scene. And photographers remind us that the city’s history reaches back much earlier than its founding in 1325. Pablo Lopez Luz considers the geography here in geological time by tracing the uses of rock that remains from the eruption of volcanoes around two millennia ago. The flow of stone “provides a means for meditation on the ancient origins of Mexico City and its amazing persistence,” writer Alvaro Enrigue observes. “An almost-seven-hundred-year-old town that has gone through innumerable invasions, earthquakes, bombings, and floods,…

22 min
graciela iturbide dreams & visions

For more than fifty years, Graciela Iturbide, recognized today as the greatest living photographer in Latin America, has envisioned the diversity of life in her native Mexico. Her lyrical, black-and-white images of street scenes in Mexico City, of Seri women in the Sonoran Desert, of political rallies in Juchitán, and of details inside Frida Kahlo’s bathroom are revered throughout the world. At the age of twenty-seven, aspiring to be a filmmaker, she enrolled in a university class with the maestro of modern Mexican photography, Manuel Álvarez Bravo. The experience was formative. “More than being my teacher of photography,” she recalls, “Don Manuel taught me about life.” Earlier this year, the editor and publisher Ramón Reverté visited Iturbide at her home in the Mexico City neighborhood of Coyoacán. One wall of her…