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 essay, the historian Justino Fernández sets forth the two common opinions about photography: on the one hand, understanding photography as a form of expression apart from art and, on the other, considering it to be a unique form of art. However, his theory revolves around redeeming photography as a medium of expression with its own specific mechanical properties. To this end, he starts by describing the daguerreotype, specifying its formal characteristics during that first period of photography. Fernández brings his text to life with stories of some of the photographers who have worked in Mexico, specifically, some of the most outstanding foreign and Mexican photographers and cinematographers. He also mentions some of the most important exhibitions of their work in Mexico. The essay concludes with a nod to popular photographers, in which he describes some of the techniques they use to capture their singular portraits of passersby.
This essay sheds light on some of the analytical criteria applied to the photography being created in the 1950s. Although it was a modern perspective, it still revealed the persistence of the conflict between art and technology. The fact that the historian himself is working within the traditional classification system emerges from the essay’s title: “The Minor Arts: Photography.”