The End

17/Mar/22 — 19/Mar/22, Museo Nacional de Antropología
Director: Jesse Lerner, Rubén Ortiz Torres

Upon seeing a photograph for the first time, the french artist Paul Delaroche famously declared in 1840: “as of today, painting is dead.” Nearly two centuries later, painting is alive and well, and painters continuously seek to discover new things to do with the medium. In the subsequent decades, both photography and cinema (a stillborn “invention without a future,” according to its inventor) have repeatedly been declared either dead, on the verge of death, or reduced to a miniature digital derivative which we only watch on our smartphones. Perhaps it’s just photography and film as we’ve known them previously that are dead—or irreversibly transformed. Death has always been at the core of both photography and film. Any number of theoreticians have reflected on the connections between these two media and death. “All those young photographers who are at work in the world, determined upon the capture of actuality,” wrote Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida, “they are agents of Death.” “Cinema,” the film archivist Paolo Cherchi Usai writes, “is the art of destroying moving images.” What is clear is that the boundaries separating these media from others like them (Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok—which have only existed for a few years) are increasingly blurry, if not irrelevant, and that these new forums where today billions consume images are both like and unlike photography and film. Social media tools are used for countless ends, including those of criminal organizations, who broadcast their threats, taunts, and murders. Rather than hide the identity of the perpetrators of their crimes, these media provide a forum for perpetrators to advertise their wrongdoings. Meanwhile, activist citizens use these same technologies to document and denounce police brutality and abuse—brutality often directed at the imagemakers themselves. Digital manipulation further undermines the evidentiary and indexical status of documentary images, and fake (or highly partisan) news weakens journalism’s (and photojournalism’s) claims to the real. Digital platforms facilitate the widespread piracy (and détournement) of images. The Covid-19 quarantine may have been the one more step toward absolute digital domination, reducing our engagement with reality and society to a series of digital screens.

Meanwhile, photographers and filmmakers continue to make work that foregrounds the emulsion, the artifacts of hand-processing, the flicker of the projector, and other qualities unique to the media in which they work. Filmmakers project images that hover at the threshold of the moving image and the still. On the US-Mexico border, photographers subvert humanist photography and its assumptions. In many Latin American countries and places in Mexico like Veracruz, Ciudad Juarez, and Mexico City, the pervasive climate of fear produced by escalating violence, femicides, organized crime and corrupted law enforcement forces media artists to rethink the strategies to represent and condemn the terrifying context in which they work.

This edition of SITAC, the fifteenth, marks the twentieth anniversary of the symposium, and will bring together an international and multigenerational group to discuss these issues: theoreticians, art historians, filmmakers, philosophers, artists, and others from Mexico, elsewhere in the Americas, and beyond. Experimental media artists Ximena Cuevas, Craig Baldwin, and Steve Fagin will dialogue with the collective Los Ingrávidos. The photo historian Abigail Solomon-Godeau will perform a moving exorcism of documentary’s ghosts. Lorena Gómez Mostajo and Lourdes Portillo will present their projects from the U.S.-Mexico border, while Rubén Ochoa will explain his anti-monumental Snapchat activism in the heart of Los Angeles’ Central American diaspora. The event will be preceded by a film series and the publication of a reader, an anthology of reprinted essays, articles, extracts, and manifestos aimed at introducing a non-specialist public to the fundamental concerns and questions motivating this SITAC.

SITAC XV Identity by Estudio Herrera 1

SITAC XV Identity by Estudio Herrera 2

Ataque a una diligencia, Raúl Guerrero, 1995-2021

Mujer del Puerto, Raúl Guerrero, 1993-1998

Scratches on the Film, Ed Ruscha, 1993

The End #68, Ed Ruscha, 2006

Due to the sanitary conditions and the capacity of the auditorium of the National Museum of Anthropology, it is necessary to confirm your attendance at this link: https://bit.ly/registrositac


1. The Families of All of Us

Thursday, March 17th

The Families of All of Us

The title evokes MoMA's emblematic photographic exhibition The Family of Man and its global tour (1955-63) as a starting point to reflect on documentary photography, its relationship with humanism, and its ideological purposes and functions. Although many continue to work in this tradition, the photography promoted by Edward Steichen seventy years ago, today finds itself in a crisis with no easy way out, with its veracity and purposes questioned, and its ethical foundations criticized. International forums and events such as Visible Evidence have become sites for critical studies of the image. In Mexico, indigenist photography traditions are being challenged and subjected to rigorous scrutiny. New generations of photographers and image thinkers, informed by feminism, identity politics debates, gender and race theories, Marxism and cultural studies in general, are proposing new models for a non-extractive, activist, critical and participatory photography.


14:00 Welcome and introduction to conference

Jesse Lerner, Rubén Ortiz Torres, Aimée Labarrere de Servitje

14:30 / 15:15 Keynot address

Abigail Solomon-Godeau

Itala Schmelz, moderator

15:40 / 17:00 The Families of All of Us

Lorena Gómez Mostajo

Antonio Molina

Natalia Majluf

Itala Schmelz, moderator

2. Films to Break Projectors

Friday, March 18th

Films to Break Projectors

Experimental cinema allows for the radical questioning of the audiovisual and its traditions. Artists understand it in very different ways, and their films reflect that diversity, as the panelists assembled here illustrate. The recycling of appropriated images, visual music, the manipulation and fabrication of photosensitive emulsions, the re-invention of projection devices and the destruction of the conventional language of narrative cinema are some of the tools available.


10:30 / 11:10 Conversation

Los Ingrávidos

Mara Huerta

11:10 / 13:00Films to Break Projectors

Ximena Cuevas

Steve Fagin

Craig Baldwin

Walter Forsberg, moderador

13:10 / 13:40 Performance

Craig Baldwin

3. Alarma!

Friday, March 18th


Various parts of Mexico are trapped in a cycle of terrible violence, with horrific femicides, powerful criminal organizations and impunity for the vast majority of those responsible for increasing atrocities. Although the contexts are different, other Latin American countries have gone through similar periods, from Central American civil wars to drug violence (and social conflicts) in countries such as Peru and Colombia. Of course, not all violence is as spectacular and is exercised in different ways. What are the strategies that image artists have used to represent this? What are the ethical challenges and how can we confront them?


15:30 / 17:30 Alarma!

Lourdes Portillo

Trevor Paglen

Kate Crawford

José Falconi

Irving Domínguez, moderador

4. Miss Metaverse

Saturday, March 19th

Miss Metaverse

In a short time, cell phones ceased to be a tool for making and receiving calls to evolve into a device with a screen, lenses, speakers and microphone in which we consume and produce still and audiovisual images. This transition was accompanied by new applications, distribution networks and manipulation possibilities, which present new challenges to our understanding and reading of images and reality itself. Speakers will talk about this new circulation of images, specific projects made for these new platforms, augmented reality and whether there really is a new beginning after the end.


10:30 / 12:30 Miss Metaverse

Vicente Razo

Amalia Ulman

Doreen Ríos

Rubén Ochoa

Eduardo Thomas, moderator

12:45 / 13:15 Conclusions


Programa de acompañamiento

10/Mar/22 - 15/Mar/22
Director: Rubén Ortiz Torres