In New York City’s first edition of Latin American Foto Festival, the South Bronx neighbourhood of Melrose will act as one vast, public gallery, showcasing work from some of Latin America’s most exciting photographers.

In New York City’s first edition of Latin American Foto Festival, the South Bronx neighbourhood of Melrose will act as one vast, public gallery, showcasing work from some of Latin America’s most exciting photographers.

The South Bronx neighbourhood of Melrose is a bustling, working-class melting pot, populated – predominantly – by members of New York’s Latino community.

So, when it came to selecting a location for NYC’s first ever Latin American Foto Festival, presented by the Bronx Documentary Center, the residential area (which was first incorporated into the city as a sleepy, German-American village back in the 19th century) always felt like the perfect choice.

From July 12th, 2018, the buildings, parks and sidewalks of Melrose will play host to a number of different instillations, transforming the neighbourhood into one vast, immersive gallery, showcasing the work of some of Latin America’s most exciting photographers.

A family harvesting coca leaves in the town of Santa Rosa, Peru, July 28, 2012. In the sacred valley of the Incas to cultivate coca plants it is legal as long as farmers sell it or buy it from ENACO (National Coca Enterprise), something farmers don't entirely agreed with, since the company fixes the prices and buys coca leaves at low rates. Also, the leaves can not be brought outside the valley. © Carlos Villalon

A family harvesting coca leaves in the town of Santa Rosa, Peru, July 28, 2012.
In the sacred valley of the Incas to cultivate coca plants it is legal as long as farmers sell it or buy it from ENACO (National Coca Enterprise), something farmers don’t entirely agreed with, since the company fixes the prices and buys coca leaves at low rates. Also, the leaves can not be brought outside the valley. © Carlos Villalon

For Michael Kamber – co-founder of the Bronx Documentary Center and co-curator of the festival along with Cynthia Rivera – it’s an overdue celebration of stories that can often go neglected.

“New York has a large and growing Latino population. NYC Latinos have close connections with countries all over the Caribbean and Latin America,” he explains.

“Having photographers from the region visit New York and show work on important social issues will help to inform New Yorkers as well as maintain ties and create understanding.”

Calling on photographers from across seven different countries, the festival seeks to encompass as much of the Latin American experience as possible. If it’s a success, Kamber adds, the plan is to expand the scope even further next year.

Carmen Petzey, 16-years-old © Carmen Petzey / Fotokids Guatemala

Carmen Petzey, 16-years-old © Carmen Petzey / Fotokids Guatemala

"Llano" is an epic 10-year journey along the paths of the Llaneros, a people who live and travel along the savannas of the Orinoco basin in Colombia and Venezuela © Juanita Escobar

“Llano” is an epic 10-year journey along the paths of the Llaneros, a people who live and travel along the savannas of the Orinoco basin in Colombia and Venezuela © Juanita Escobar

Featuring the likes of Erika P. Rodriguez, Sharon Castellanos and Mauricio Palos (to name just a few), the festival covers subject matter that ranges from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, to the violent persecution that journalists face in Mexico.

“The BDC wants the Latin American Foto Festival to help create cultural bonds and exchanges between New York residents and their counterparts throughout the Caribbean and Latin America,” Kamber adds.

“We believe this will be the beginning of creative relationships and ‘intercambios’ for both adults and teenagers in our programs here at the BDC.”

Loma de Cabrera, Dajabón – Nov. 9, 2014: Elena Julienne walks from her house to her stand to sell artisan products, including milk fudge, toasted cashew nuts, and coconut sweets. Originally from Haiti, Julienne is married to a Dominican man and has been selling sweets by this road for 14 years. © Tatiana Fernandez

Loma de Cabrera, Dajabón – Nov. 9, 2014: Elena Julienne walks from her house to her stand to sell artisan products, including milk fudge, toasted cashew nuts, and coconut sweets. Originally from Haiti, Julienne is married to a Dominican man and has been selling sweets by this road for 14 years. © Tatiana Fernández Geara

Collapsed abandoned building on top a car left by hurricane Maria ravaged the island in Puerta de Tierra, San Juan, P.R., Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. Maria landed as a category 4 storm early Wednesday leaving the entire American territory without power and mostly with out communications © Erika P. Rodriguez

Collapsed abandoned building on top a car left by hurricane Maria ravaged the island in Puerta de Tierra, San Juan, P.R., Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. Maria landed as a category 4 storm early Wednesday leaving the entire American territory without power and mostly with out communications © Erika P. Rodriguez

© Misha Vallejo

© Misha Vallejo

© Francesca von Rabenau

© Francesca von Rabenau O’Reilly,

For more information on the festival, visit the Bronx Documentary Center website

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