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Top: Stereograph showing Christopher Columbus "discovering" Latin America. Bottom: stereographscope. Both images from At the Margin.

2-3-4-D: Digital Revisions in Time and Space, 1991-1992

All of the works reproduced here are part of a 1991-92 series called 2-3-4-D: Digital Revisions in Time and Space, in which I use digital technology to challenge and complicate historical stereotypes. Specifically they are responses to the ubiquitous image of Christopher Columbus (as New World “discoverer”) which I encountered in stereographs of Latin America during a 1991 residency at the California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside.

The three-panel sequence A Thousand Centuries deliberately confronts the viewer with different imaging/viewing technologies (a stereoscope containing a turn-of-the century stereograph and a viewmaster containing a slide from the 1980s) as well as different cultural perspectives: the hyperbolic homage to Columbus inscribed on his Havana tombstone vs. the variety and insouciance of Havana street life.

The four-panel sequence At the Margin progressively subverts a 1939 vintage stereograph of the Columbus monument in the city of Trujillo, Dominican Republic, by moving the figures who are literally and symbolically marginalized (the black woman at the edge of the frame and the Indian woman at the base of the statue) to the center.

The diptych Native Fruits juxtaposes a historical engraving of the “conquistadores” landing at LaCruz (Cuba) with a panorama of contemporary figures digitally assembled from the streets of Havana, Cuba, where I photographed them in the 1980s.

The diptych Friends and Deliverers, while based on an image of U.S. soldiers in Cuba at the time of the Spanish-American war, reflects an ongoing pattern of U.S. invasion of Third World countries, rationalized as democratic salvation from demonic Old World or Communist forces. The uniformed Young Pioneers from contemporary Cuba are intended to celebrate the militant pride and racial fraternity of this revolutionary social order, while at the same time questioning its potential for rigidity.

—Excerpt from Artist Statement

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