Fantasy, Dream and Make Believe

Juan Carlos López Morales, Tree: Spirit, 2014

Fantasy, Dream and Make Believe

Sergio Fonseca, Juan Carlos López Morales and Roberto Tondopo
Curated by Jerry Vezzuso

Exhibition Dates: October 21 – November 3, 2018
Opening conversation and reception: Sunday, October 21, 2018 | 4:30 pm (Reception from 6 – 8 pm)

Baxter St at CCNY is pleased to present an exhibition of photography and video, curated by photographer and educator Jerry Vezzuso. This exhibition brings together three outstanding emerging artists from Mexico who situate their subjects within vivid and liminal landscapes of fantasy, dream, and make-believe. The exhibition is held in collaboration with the Celebrate Mexico Now Festival and is sponsored by the Tierney Family Foundation.

Sergio Fonseca explores machismo, sexuality, and male personas in a video called La Dispersión del Yo. On a bare stage he performs seductively as a stripper, playing three iconic characters: a cowboy, a rapper, and a wrestler.  In a second video, 180kph, he traces the path of a biker shooting across a desert horizon, timed to a popular ballad of longing and desire. Juan Carlos López Morales makes uncanny images that hint at a mysterious narrative, combining portraits with details of environments and figures to create a heightened sense of foreboding and déjà vu.  His evocative photographs in dim light are singular glimpses that hover between fluid dimensions of the real and unreal. Roberto Tondopo depicts his niece and nephew at play, exploring their transition from childhood to adolescence as they enact stories from the artist’s own childhood that shaped his identity as he grew up.  Part reality, part fiction, the remembered tales deal with violence and rites of passage.

The photographers in this exhibition have absorbed the influence of surrealism as well as the notion of magical realism. Although its antecedents go back to earlier authors, it is the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez who is most associated with the popularization of magical realism, in his fictional weaving of a sense of the fantastical into the everyday reality of his characters’ lives. Salman Rushdie has written that “the trouble with the term ‘magic realism’, el realismo mágico, is that when people say or hear it they are really hearing or saying only half of it, ‘magic’, without paying attention to the other half, ‘realism’. But if magic realism were just magic, it wouldn’t matter. It would be mere whimsy– writing in which, because anything can happen, nothing has effect. It’s because the magic in magic realism has deep roots in the real, because it grows out of the real and illuminates it in beautiful and unexpected ways, that it works.” After Marquez, the Chilean Roberto Bolaño galvanized readers with a grittier version of reality in which violence, sexuality, and psychological intimacy permeate the narrative. The three photographers in this exhibition show evidence of these major influences, both visual and literary, adding to that lineage a contemporary sense of ironic playfulness and heightened self-awareness.

About the Artists:

Sergio Fonseca studied Communication Sciences at the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente and did various photography workshops. He attended the program of contemporary photography of CONARTE Nuevo León. In 2013, he presented the performance piece, The Dispersion of the Self, from the Stripper Project, in the Gallery Veinte22 in Guadalajara. He won the Fonca Fellowship of Young Creators for 2012-13 and the grant Young Creators of the PECDAR  in 2011-12. He was selected for the Bienal de Fotografía XVI at the Centro de la Imagen, México City in 2015.

Juan Carlos López Morales teaches photography in Mexico City at the Academia de Artes Visuals.  He received the Tierney Fellowship in 2013 and the Art Residencies Grant (2013) and Young Creators Grant (2008) from Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes in Mexico. He was a student of the Contemporary Photography Seminar at Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City and participated in the Masters in Photography program at Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain. In 2010, he was awarded Honorable Mention at Centro de la Imagen Photography Biennial in Mexico. He has participated in multiple exhibitions in Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Spain and Belgium. His work has been shown in publications such as Culturehall, Photographic Museum of Humanity, PICNIC Magazine, and Tierra Adentro Magazine.

Roberto Tondopo published his first monograph, Casita De Turron, in 2015 with the support of the National Fund for Culture and the Arts through the Program to Support Cultural Joint Investments and Projects, and with support from the State Council for Culture and Arts of Chiapas, The National Council for Culture and Arts, and the University of Science and Arts of Chiapas and Televisa Foundation.  He studied at the Centro de la Imagen in Lima, Peru, in 2010. Tondopo was a 2011 winner of Tierney Fellowship in Photography. He is also the 2018 winner of the Robert Giard Foundation Fellowship in Photography for his project “Holy Glorious San Sebastian,” which depicts the Chuntás, men who dress as women and dance during the Fiesta Grande of Chiapas, Mexico. The fellowship is given to a visual artist dealing with subject matter on sexuality and gender identity.

About the Curator:

Jerry Vezzuso is a photographer and educator on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts and Teachers College at Columbia University.  His work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of the City of New York. A co-founder of the Tierney Fellowship program, he has led photography workshops in Mexico for over 20 years and is currently a Juror for the Tierney Fellowship. Three such fellowships were granted annually to photographers in Mexico from 2008-2013.


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The Tierney Fellowship in Photography was created in 2003 by the Tierney Family Foundation to support emerging artists in the field of photography. The primary goal of the Fellowship was to find tomorrow’s distinguished artists and leaders in the world of photography and assist them in overcoming the challenges that a photographer faces at the beginning of his or her career. This exhibition is held in collaboration with the Celebrate Mexico Now Festival and is sponsored by the Tierney Fellowship in Photography.