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Two new exhibitions highlight work from museum's vast permanent collection
Graciela Iturbide, Cayó del Cielo, Chalma, México, 1990. Gelatin silver print, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61cm) Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Gift of Susan Steinhauser and Daniel Greenberg, 2012.36 © Graciela Iturbide.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is presenting two exhibitions this fall that highlight work from the Museum’s vast permanent collection. México quiero conocerte: Photographs by Graciela Iturbide and Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Bound to the Earth: Art, Materiality, and the Natural World both opened on Thursday, November 21. The exhibitions will remain on view through March 15, 2020.

México quiero conocerte: Photographs by Graciela Iturbide and Manuel Álvarez Bravo features work by two of the most celebrated photographers in Latin America. The images that Graciela Iturbide (b.1942) and Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902 –2002) produced of their native Mexico have actively contributed to shaping Mexican visual identity while concurrently offering representations of marginalized populations that existed outside mainstream consciousness. Through the medium of photography, both artists dynamically examine their own country and the myriad of indigenous cultures within it.

The exhibition explores the intimate connection each photographer had to capturing aspects and ideas of Mexico. Photographing their own homeland, their approaches to picturing the country differed from the dominant Anglo and Eurocentric portrayals of Mexico produced by foreign image-makers. The exhibition’s title, borrowed from a well-known photograph by Iturbide, firmly grounds how both photographers grew to learn and explore their national landscape through the lens of their cameras. The works presented in this exhibition make evident the continual dialogue each artist had with the changing landscape of their country, while highlighting their contributions to ideas of myth in Mexico.

Also drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection, Bound to the Earth: Art, Materiality, and the Natural World looks at the ways in which artists have addressed and represented the landscape. Many works are made with earthen materials such as clay and tar, sticks and soil; others focus on the natural resources that constitute our environment. Beginning in the late 1960s, a group of artists began siting their sculptures, installations, and performances outdoors, engaging with the natural world in contrast to the space of the gallery. These works of land art varied from minimal and ephemeral gestures in the landscape to large movements of the earth. Artists often documented their actions, producing photographs and drawings, or relocated organic material from their original site into the gallery to create sculptures and installations. The legacies of land art can be seen in the work of many artists, who continue to turn their attention, and ours, to the world around us.

Bound to the Earth features artists working across many decades and in various media, including sculpture and performance documentation. Understanding that the landscape is not neutral ground, the works in this exhibition prompt a reconsideration of the different influences that shape our understanding of the natural world. Many artists encourage a broad understanding of the earth, questioning the ways in which it is mined for resources or divided as political territory. As our relationship to natural resources continues to change, these artworks foreground materials that are often overlooked, contextualizing their many formal, cultural, and symbolic meanings.

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