The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In 1983, the Taller La Huella [Imprint Workshop] produced the first detailed history of Colombian photography between 1841 and 1948. It was based on a review of the relationship between local visual history and the general patterns of the practice of photography in the western world; these things had had a defining influence on the technical and aesthetic development of the Colombian version. This document presents a range of perspectives on the major social and aesthetic events associated with photography within a complex socioeconomic context in which the industrialization of the practice paradoxically managed to coexist with its traditional form. This book attempts to posit an extremely interesting hypothesis concerning the history of photography in Colombia that transcends the nationalist, testimonial, and folkloric vision of the practice; that Colombian photography duplicated the patterns that were developed for this genre in the rest of the western world. Colombian photography, therefore, assimilated the conventional ways of seeing and aesthetic canons—in portraits, documentary photography, and photojournalism—without making any significant contributions to the general history of this particular genre. According to the text, the value and significance of Colombian photography of that period are to be found in the processes that connected our visual history with our society and our culture.
The book Crónica de la fotografía en Colombia 1841-1948 [Chronicle of Photography in Colombia, 1841–1948] was the first attempt to analyze an important period in the history of photography in this country. The book was presented in 1983 by the Taller La Huella [Imprint Workshop]—which included Marcos Roda (b. 1954), Roberto Rubiano (b. 1952), and Juan Carlos Rubiano (b. 1959)—just months before the appearance of the well-known historical document Historia de la fotografía en Colombia [History of Photography in Colombia], published by Eduardo Serrano (b. 1939) [see doc. no. 1091141]. Illustrated with an interesting collection of photographs, the book provides a detailed analysis of the development of photography that takes a different view from the one proposed in Serrano’s book. The Taller La Huella was a small art group that was active for seven years, was mainly concerned with printmaking and photography, and made important contributions to the field of photographic studies in Colombia. Prior to Crónica de la fotografía en Colombia 1841-1948, the Taller La Huella had already published another pioneering text: Fotografía colombiana contemporánea [Contemporary Colombian Photography], in 1978.
The introduction to the book identifies the events, photographers, and photographs that shape the development of this genre in Colombia during the period in question. The text therefore does not refer to names and events in any great depth, but alludes to specific cases to shed light on certain aspects of the development of photography, such as when it arrived in Colombia, how to be a photographer during the tumultuous nineteenth century, the sociopolitical uses of portraits, the development of outdoor photography, the popularization of photography as a hobby, the relationship between republicanism and the photographic image, and finally, the establishment of newspaper photography.
Attention should also be drawn to the book’s description of Melitón Rodríguez (1875–1942) as the photographer who, in terms of aesthetics and technique, prevents us from forgetting the first hundred years of photography in Colombia. Rodríguez is described as an exceptional photographer who produced superlative work during the period under review. This description agrees with a number of documents on the history of Latin American photography, in which Rodríguez is listed as the only Colombian whose work receives international recognition during the first hundred years of the history of western photography.