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 this text, Tina Modotti shows her way of understanding and evaluating photography based on an aesthetic and expressive search that went beyond merely pictorial canons. She clearly explains that it is important that images have clarity, forcefulness, and zero manipulation. Above all, Modotti maintains, photographers must let go of traditional principles to seek their own visual discourse. In short, this article deals with the highly developed, rationalized concepts related to avant-garde photography in the 1920s in Mexico when such concepts were being adopted through implementation of new technologies around the world.
This is one of the most valuable texts available regarding Tina Modotti (1896–1942) in the Mexican historical archives and does the most to clarify her avant-garde stance on photography. In her own words, the Italian-born photographer sheds light on the solid concepts concerning the value of an image as testimony and documentation. Such ideas were remote from the pictorial values that were in ascendance at that time. Her conviction about the force of the photographic discourse—which Modotti learned at the side of her teacher Edward Weston (1886–1958)—and her own experiments including both art and documentary photography, make this article vitally important. This essential document allows comprehension of the basic precepts of avant-garde photography in the 1920s. It was undoubtedly from Mexico that these resident foreigners disseminated these precepts around the world. The article also explains Modotti’s significance in the work of other contemporary photographers: she created an important, lasting graphic genealogy.