Review of Photographic Exhibits on Social Justice


Jorge Carlos Alvarez Díaz

Part 1 – Exhibit at Berry Baker Library

Photography has the power to provoke reflections and modify perceptions in those who attend an exhibition, especially if the social theme of human migration is involved at the heart of the artistic exhibition.

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese of Dartmouth College has organized a series of presentations, exhibitions and debates under the title «Undestanding Social Justice, Approaching and Embracing Diversity». Below is a detail of what happened in the university community during the artistic exhibitions presented by Jorge Carlos Alvarez.

The first event took place in the Baker library aisles – the central library of the university campus in Hanover – specifically in what is known as the brick wall. A wide space that has the virtue of being a busy corridor daily for students, teachers, employees and visitors.

At 4:00 p.m. on April 24, the inaugural event began under the presentation of Jill E. Baron, Librarian of Romance Languages and Latin American Studies. Also there was María Clara De Greiff Spanish teacher and director of the student residence «La Casa», accompanied by the professors of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

The inaugural speech began with the gratitude to the attending public, collaborators and sponsors. A brief tour around the photographer’s curricular trajectory was made, and the text «Photography as an antidote» was read, where the guest artist expressed his reflection on migration as an indomitable force of the universe. The vision of photography as a tool to show the humanity of migrant faces, hoping to awaken an empathy that helps to dispel social prejudices in the observer public within the US territory.

«Look at me in the eyes! Face to Face with People on the Other Side of the Wall «is a conciliatory proposal to discover the humanity behind the eyes of people who travel the streets of Mexico and Central America in our days.

After reading the text, which was rightly carried out in an emotional way by two university students of «La Casa», a dialogue was opened with the photographer in a dynamic of questions and answers. It was remarkable the great amount of the questions and especially the interest of the audience to deepen in the concepts of migration that the artist connected with the photographic portraits. Images described by the author as spontaneous and realistic, without editing tricks or resources of a professional study.

Once the microphone was off, the dialogue between those who were present was far from over, and the photographer had the opportunity to talk in English and Spanish, individually, with the audience. It was a moment of richness for the exchange of experiences and knowledge, where the opportunity was taken to approach the photographs and share the stories that were printed there.

The exhibition also relied on a projection of images displayed on a high definition screen that was located a short distance from the wall where the photos hung, and it should be mentioned that a notebook was placed in the exhibition to receive comments and opinions from the audience. The notebook says: «What do you observe? Can you describe the migration in three words? »

The first presentation culminated successfully thanks to an enthusiastic audience that showed their gratitude to the event until the last moment.

Part 2 – Exhibit at the Black Family Visual Arts Center

The second event was held at the «Black Family Visual Arts Center» on April 27 at 6:00 p.m. An exhibition that occupied the four walls of the so-called «Student Gallery», located near the entrance to the auditorium, where a couple of hours before, a valuable documentary would be exhibited that involved a theme around university migration.

The documentary «Change The Subject» is a film project made by students and teachers of Dartmouth College, who question and take action to change the terminology «Illegal Alien» in the libraries of the country. A derogatory and segregatory terminology that is important to question in universities.

The photographic exhibition of Jorge Carlos Alvarez in this venue focused on art, had the opportunity to present images in large formats and this greatly favored the impact of his artistic work in front of the audience. When presented in a space dedicated to the arts, the exhibition received the eyes of professors and students who inhabit the visual center, who came to share experiences and expert opinions with the author.

The event also had a projection of images and complementary texts on a wall of the gallery and in the environment background music from Mexican folklore was heard.

During the opening of the exhibition, the attendees of the photographic exhibition were able to actively converse with the artist, where the great interest of the university community in social picture photography in Mexico was confirmed, opening the opportunity to reflect on the issue of migration.

The two exhibitions will be open until the last day of May 2019, and it is the wish of the photographer, as well as that of the organizers in the library and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, that this photographic exhibition be shown in other universities and open spaces to the culture, taking advantage that the material will be available to be able to be mounted in any scenario as an «itinerant exhibition».

We live critical moment in the decision making towards the regulations and migratory processes in the whole world. Humanity has migrated since the beginning of time and it is important to open spaces for modern societies to deeply understand this transcendental topic. It is important to take steps in the direction of a better future, where social justice reigns.