El Niño X 3: Young Bodies, Old Souls

Pro-Jex Gallery,
through September 29

Fotoseptiembre Internacional is a biennial celebration of photography organized by the Mexico City-based Centro de la Imagen. Designed in 1994 to promote the work of Latin American photographers, Fotoseptiembre has become a worldwide showcase of not only the photographers of Latin America, but also the region's innumerable photographic subjects. This year, Fotoseptiembre encompasses more than 700 photography-related events in several countries around the world.

Austin's inclusion in the biennial is "El Niño X 3" (the child by three), an exhibition featuring images of Latin American children by Austin-based photographers Brenda Ladd, Curtis Craven, and Dennis Darling. To focus on the adolescents of Latin America is essentially to explore the depths of the simple lifestyle -- and the poverty frequently accompanying it -- that is so prevalent in these countries. In this collection, the youths -- who possess an uncomplicated charm that often betrays their impoverished reality -- are candidly presented in their natural environs. All the photos are black and white, enhancing the subject's gritty nature and antiquated quality.

Brenda Ladd's Tres Niños con Regalos depicts three children -- two boys and a girl -- sitting on a shrubby hillside that overlooks a small hamlet. These earthy cherubs, with their hesitant half-smiles and penetrating dark eyes, are at once wise and innocent, like petite bodies enveloping old souls. Curtis Craven's Afternoon Bath in Tecolutla River is shot from overhead, looking down on a blissful girl almost totally submersed in the river, the gray water circling out from her face framing her features like wavy halos. Dennis Darling's Feast of St. George is a beautiful yet unsettling image of two young boys dressed in ornate homemade warrior costumes. With somber countenances and toy swords at the ready, the boys seem prepared for battle. Their serious nature is both humorous and disconcerting; their chivalrous stances seem all too mature for their diminutive frames.

This collection is a fine example of the photographic medium as an artform, with engaging and narrative images as rich and lively as one could hope to find on paper. The three photographers represented normally work in vastly different styles, but here their differences tend to melt away in the grainy images. Each photo wholly complements the next, each befitting the other like kin in an extended family. Technical variables become obsolete in the dark pools of the subjects' eyes, giving way to one organic constant: little humans with large spirits. -- Cari Marshall

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Arts Reviews
<i>Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents</i> by Isabel Wilkerson
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
In her second book, the author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines and breaks down the unacknowledged social structure baked into our country

Rosalind Faires, Nov. 13, 2020

<i>Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir</i> by Natasha Trethewey
Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir by Natasha Trethewey
In her book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet is a daughter who returns to her mother's crime scene to reclaim herself

Barbara Purcell, Nov. 6, 2020


Dance, Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Museum, Robert Faires

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle