New York City’s largest photo festival is coming to Los Angeles. With Photoville now attracting close to 90,000 visitors to its Brooklyn iteration each year, expectations are high as its emblematic photo village – furnished with repurposed shipping containers, photo cubes, and banner installations – lands in Century Park, right at the heart of the sprawling metropolis, from April 26 to April 28 and May 2 to May 5. In line with its ideals of keeping world-class photography accessible, Photoville’s West Coast edition will bring together more than 55 exhibits, talks and workshops, presented by award-winning visual journalists, at no cost to the public.
Notably, Photoville LA will also put forward a rare opportunity for the county’s almost 5 million Latinx residents to witness an ambitious curation of Latinx and Latin American visual work in one setting. Impressively, the festival’s organizers have arranged both a comprehensive retrospective of the legendary LA photo icon Estevan Oriol and a standout showcase of the acclaimed Joseph Rodriguez’s intimate depictions of Boyle Heights’ Chicano gangs, on view in Los Angeles for the first time. Rising photographers also shine in this year’s festival with refreshing, new work from the Southern California natives Arlene Mejorado and Roberto “Bear” Guerra, selected by the Los Angeles Times as a photographer to watch.
To help navigate your way through the massive photo event, we’ve curated a list of must-see exhibits from seven Latinx and Latin American visual journalists. The stories presented from these select photographers challenge the narratives we might expect to find on national television of what Latinx lives look like, offering instead nuanced reporting, arresting images, and heart-felt storytelling.
Cinthya Santos Briones' Living in Sanctuary
With Living in Sanctuary, Mexican photojournalist Cinthya Santos Briones presents a close-up of the human drama immigrant families face as they resist deportation. As the Trump administration continues to strip protections from undocumented immigrants, New York City communities of faith are stepping in to provide refuge for asylum seekers who fear losing it all. Far from the oversimplified portrayals represented on mainstream news, Briones’ images captures tender moments of struggle and resilience as these families establish a home and community within church walls.
Pablo Unzueta's L.A. Gente (L.A. People)
Last year, LA street vendors made national headlines when the local city council finally legalized their livelihood. With L.A. Gente (L.A. People), California native Pablo Unzueta looks beyond the headlines and political debates to portray the people who create community and memories of home with their food.
Estevan Oriol's This Is Los Angeles
Los Angeles native Estevan Oriol owned a lowrider before a camera found its way into his hands. In fact, his interest in documenting the local lowrider scene became the impetus for a photography career that would take him around the world with hip hop greats, such as Cypress Hill and House of Pain. This retrospective looks back at 25 years of photographing West Coast rappers, gangsters, celebrities, and Oriol’s first love, customized vehicles.
Women Photograph's Women & The American West
Since its launch in 2017, the platform Women Photograph has brought to the forefront the perspectives of female and non-binary visual journalists. True to form, this exhibit starts with a space commonly depicted in terms of conquest and male domination, the American West, and offers a decidedly different vision, as seen by the photographers Karen Miranda-Rivadeneira, Hilary Swift, Arlene Mejorado, Cara Romero, and Koraliina Paatos.
Joseph Rodriguez's 1992-2017–East Side Stories
The Nuyorican photographer Joseph Rodriguez arrived in Los Angeles in 1992, a time of high racial tensions in the city, and immediately delved deep into the social structures of gang life in South Central LA and Boyle Heights. What Rodriguez found was violence and drugs, as was often reported on prime time news, but also family bonds, trauma, and stories of triumph despite the adversity.
Roberto "Bear" Guerra's A Possible River
A Possible River explores the forgotten history of the Los Angeles River, a 51-mile-long waterway that in 1960, was transformed into the concrete channel Angelenos recognize today. As the city takes on a major river revitalization plan that would recover some of the lost ecosystems and encourage public use, the environmental photojournalist Roberto “Bear” Guerra meditates on the relationship between humans and nature and the “inherent need for the wild in our lives, despite our unending and often unsuccessful efforts to tame it.”
Las Fotos Projects' Esta Soy Yo
The Esta Soy Yo exhibit is the culmination of eight years of image-making from 12 young, Latina photographers. Each visual artist shares a selection of self-portraits, both recent and from their archives, that reveals her individual creativity and visual language, as well as a story of empowerment and growth.This is the second time Las Fotos Project, a Los Angeles-based mentorship program, presents the work of their students at Photoville.
The photographers featured are: Alejandra Gonzalez, Ashley Sanchez, Greisy Hernandez, Jennifer Alvarez, Katherine De La Cruz Lee, Anne Harrison, Maria Romero, Maya Rosado, Michelle Montecinos, Romina Estrada, Rubi García, and Tonali Murillo.