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3 female friendships of artists from Latin America you need to know.


Sara Facio and Alicia D’ Amico




Sara Facio and Alicia D’ Amico’s friendship goes back to their days at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. They graduated together in 1953, Facio with a degree in art education and D’ Amico in drawing and painting. Their career paths would remain intertwined. In 1955, they were awarded a scholarship by the French government that allowed them to study art in one of the most impactful art scenes for one year. During this journey, they acquired their first photographic cameras and started to take photos. The experience was extremely rewarding, and they went back to Argentina to pursue new enterprises.



D’ Amico would continue developing her technique, now with the help of her father, Luis D’ Amico, who was also a photographer and Annemarie Heinrich. On the other hand, from 1957 to 1960, Facio attended several courses and photography workshops both within her country and abroad. After all their training, they opened a photography studio in 1960 and in 1973, along with María Cristina Orive, they founded “La Azotea”, the first publishing house that was devoted to Latin American photography in Argentina. D’ Amico and Facio continued working on numerous projects, namely photo books, such as Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires (1968).


After all their training, they opened a photography studio in 1960 and in 1973, along with María Cristina Orive, they founded “La Azotea”, the first publishing house that was devoted to Latin American photography in Argentina.

In 1976, La Azotea released Humanario by Facio and D’ Amico, after which it was censored. The photographic series portrayed those who resided in the Moyano, Borda and Open Door psychiatric hospitals. The Dirección de Salud Mental of the Public Health Ministry commissioned it. However, the series conveyed the social issues behind the faces of those who were depicted at mental health institutions, something that the government did not see well. In an article about Argentinian photography during the last dictatorship, Facio highlights how extremist authorities perceive photographers:


“Saben que no hay imágenes inocentes (…) [Las autoridades] no quieren que quede registrada esa escenografía decadente de paredes manchadas, graffitis insultantes, de edificios descascarados, veredas rotas y suciedad, síntoma de la desidia, el abandono, la tristeza (…)”.


"They know that there are no innocent images (...) [The authorities] do not want that decadent scenery of stained walls, insulting graffiti, peeling buildings, broken sidewalks and dirt to be recorded, a symptom of neglect, abandonment, sadness (...)".

The photographs could finally be exhibited in 1985. Martin Parr and Gerry Badger, authors of The Photobook: A History, have stated that “Sara Facio and Alicia D’ Amico employed a mode of expression that looked more to the internal and the psychological expressed by means of a rough, grainy, graphic expressionism”. Humanario also included texts by renowned Latin American writer Julio Cortázar, who is the author of famous literary pieces such as Rayuela.


D’ Amico and Facio’s outstanding work granted them the Konex Award in 1982, which honoured relevant Argentinian personalities. They were also founding members of the Consejo Argentino de Fotografía. These women artists were two of the most influential photographers of their time and together contributed to the development of photography within Latin America.


Frida Kahlo and Lola Álvarez Bravo



Did you know that some of the most known photographs of Frida Kahlo were taken by her friend Lola Álvarez Bravo? They portray a very intimate atmosphere, depicting Frida lost in her thoughts or in a sincere interaction with her surroundings.




Lola Álvarez was a relevant photographer within the Mexican art scene during the XX century. A very active personality, she collaborated with famous artists of her time, such as Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo and David Alfaro Siqueiros.


Álvarez Bravo was the one that organised the only solo exhibition by Frida Kahlo in Ciudad de Mexico at the Galería de Arte Moderno in 1953.

Álvarez Bravo was the one that organised the only solo exhibition by Frida Kahlo in Ciudad de Mexico at the Galería de Arte Moderno in 1953. This exhibition was particularly significant not only because it allowed Mexican people to admire Kahlo’s art production but also because the artist herself was present. At this time in her life, the artist’s illness prevented her from doing almost anything, and because of this, she attended the gallery in her bed after arriving at the place in an ambulance. The exhibition was a success, and thanks to Bravo, Frida was able to behold her own artworks featured in her country one year before passing away.


Mónica Mayer and Maris Bustamante






Mayer and Bustamante founded in 1983, with the initial participation of photographer Herminia Dosal, what is considered to be the first feminist art collective in Mexico: Polvo de Gallina Negra or Black hen powder in English. The name comes from a type of powder commercialized in Mexico that is said to serve as protection from the evil eye. The actions these two friends performed constituted a reflection of the situation of women within their society.


The actions these two friends performed constituted a reflection of the situation of women within their society.

For example, their project Mothers focused on the concept of motherhood and the experience of the artists as wives and mothers. In addition, the performance “Madre por un día” allowed men to approach maternity in a different way. It was broadcasted on live television, in the programme “Nuestro Mundo”, with Guillermo Ochoa. The host had to wear an apron and was supposed to simulate a pregnant belly in front of 200 million viewers. In an interview with Mayer, she recalled that a person reached out to the show nine months later to ask if the host had had a girl or a boy.


In an interview with Mayer, she recalled that a person reached out to the show nine months later to ask if the host had had a girl or a boy.

Their collaboration as part of Polvo de Gallina Negra ended in 1993. In conversation with researcher Ailyn Itzá Mercedes Manchego, Mayer stated that life was the cause for this to have happened. In 1993, Maris Bustamante became a widow, which made it very complex for the project to continue as she was also a university teacher and mother of two. Nevertheless, their collaboration and friendship continued and remained an inspiration for female artists.



Sources:

D’ Amico, Alicia; Facio, Sara; Cortázar, Julio: Humanario, La Azotea, 1976.

“Alicia D’ Amico, la fotógrafa que luchó por los derechos de las mujeres desde el lente de su cámara”, en Ministerio de Cultura Argentina oficial website.

“90 años de Sara Facio: la fotografía como arte”, en Ministerio de Cultura Argentina oficial website.

Bertúa, Paula : “Líneas de visibilidad, zonas de fuga. Sara Facio, Alicia D Amico y Julio Cortázar en Humanario”, en Visualidad y dispositivos. Arte y técnica desde una perspectiva cultural, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Buenos Aires.

Mercedes Manchego, Aylin: Blach Hen Dust: A study of Polvo de Gallina Negra, the first feminist art group in Mexico, Utrecht University, 2020.

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