“Through a process of construction, destruction and reconstruction, Alejandro Cartagena explores the formal and theoretical structures that shape the meaning of photographs. For his latest project, the artist sifted through landfills on the outskirts of Mexico City to collect thousands of discarded photographs — portraits, snapshots and tourist views. Using figures, faces and other details from the found photographs, he reconfigured the original compositions by either moving the cut fragments or removing them entirely. The altered photographs remain strangely whole and strikingly familiar, compelling the viewer to consider what gives a photograph meaning. His arrangements reveal that seemingly crucial aspects of an image are both central and incidental to our ability to understand the works. Cartagena’s projects employ landscape and portraiture as a means to examine social, urban and environmental issues.” — Chrysler Museum of Art
“For years I’ve been collecting photographs… At some point, the images started to show themselves as a structure of… how society has used photography to dictate the way in which we should look in front of the camera….This body of work is an attempt to understand how that structure has been built…,” Cartagena said.
“Alejandro Cartagena’s photographs appear at first as simple cut-outs and collages, but by simply manipulating the picture surface, Cartagena explores the entire structure of the medium and our relationship to it,” said Seth Feman, Ph.D., the Chrysler Museum’s Deputy Director of Art & Interpretation and Curator of Photography.
Alejandro Cartagena: Photo Structure / Foto Estructura is co-organized by the Chrysler and George Eastman Museum of Rochester, N.Y.
Images courtesy Chrysler Museum of Art.