January 9, 2009

Javier Ramírez Limón at the Museum of Contemprorary Art

On January 18, 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego will open Cerca Series: Javier Ramírez Limón at its La Jolla location. The exhibition—curated by MCASD Assistant Curator, Lucía Sanromán—will feature photographic works by the Tijuana-based artist Javier Ramírez Limón, and will be on view through May 10, 2009.

Ramírez Limón mines the ground between photography as straight journalistic document and as a source for conceptual and poetic interrogation. He attains this through breaks and alterations in the image’s representational façade that take various forms: textual application, digital manipulation and, as for this Cerca Series, the pairing of two independent bodies of work to create a third.

The exhibition will present two documentary photography series that—separately and using distinct photographic techniques and conventions—document different moments in the process of migration and adaptation of Mexican communities in the Southern United States. Ramírez Limón’s color portraits in the series Mexican Quinceañera (2006-2008) capture central characters in real festivities celebrating the 15th-birthday of adolescent women living in San Diego County—the equivalent to Sweet 16 parties in the United States. These images are brought together with black-and-white landscape photos from the series De Altar al Sásabe (2007) taken in an area of the Sonoran desert known as Altar, a remote and dangerous region where illegal migrants and drugs are smuggled north.

Ramírez Limón conceptualizes these pairings as a form of infiltration of the social and ethnographic content of one series into the other. This transforms the new pairings into a temporal narrative about migration but also a more allusive and open-ended reflection upon the subject. The landscapes infiltrate or seep into the cultural discourse of the Mexican Quinceañera series, becoming a backdrop to that celebration and its characters, while offering a shorthand social history of a community. Ramírez Limón’s work insinuates a suggestive and intimate mode of observation upon a social phenomenon whose face is dominated by stereotypical media representations.

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