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VRC e-newsletter April 2015

The Visual Resources Collection's (VRC) e-newsletter highlights donors and their recent image contributions. Images of featured projects can be accessed by UT faculty, students, and staff via the VRC's online image collection
Gabriel Ortiz is a native of Bogotá, Colombia where he obtained a B.A. in Philosophy from La Universidad de Los Andes. He is currently pursuing a dual Master's degree in Community & Regional Planning and Latin American Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. Following graduation, Gabriel plans to return to Bogotá to apply his knowledge to abate inequality and promote social justice. His research was funded in part by UTSOA’s Independent Research Travel Scholarships program. Gabriel's photos are available to the university’s faculty, students, and staff through the UTSOA VRC's online image collection

Donor Highlight

Gabriel Ortiz

MSCRP & MALAS, expected 2016 

What motivates you to photograph the streetscapes and architectural works you visit?
When I was a child my father would always photograph the places we visited, so I suppose I learned this passion from him. I have never felt comfortable asking people to pose for photos, but I can wait for hours in front of a building in order to capture the right shot or move around it to capture its different angles. Sometimes I revisit the same architectural work at different points in the day, just to see how the light plays upon it and how different people interact with the shadows it casts. 
 
Do you find the photography or the architecture more exciting?
Since I am not a designer, photography becomes a means to capture that which I wish I could design myself. I tend to take photos of subjects that interest me as a pedestrian, capturing the details that give way to the relationship between the building and the urban fabric. 
 
How do you use the images you shoot? How does photography inform your works?
My thesis will focus on Bogotá’s graffiti scene so photographic documentation is crucial to my work. I became interested in graffiti as I walked through and photographed different Latin American cities, realizing that graffiti is a universal urban phenomenon. In a sense photography shaped my research interest because I took photos of urban art long before I knew I would be writing about it. 
 
Where's your next destination? Are you searching out locations with a particular theme or region? 
This summer I will be traveling to Bogotá in order to conduct ethnographic research with different graffiti artists. I plan to document the way these artists are changing the built environment and photography will play a crucial role in this endeavor. My intention is to stitch together photographs taken—by graffiti artists—of an intervened underpass occupied by more than two hundred graffiti artists for twenty-four consecutive hours that was subsequently erased by the police some months after this unique event. I will compare this documentation to the photographs that I will take of the underpass in its current state in order to not only make a comparison between the two and draw conclusions about how the Colombian state is regulating its public space but also to identify what mechanisms are deployed by the graffiti artists to transgress or accept these new regulations.
 
To browse all images donated by Gabriel Ortiz, visit the VRC's online image collection. Log in using your EID and select the "Advanced Search" option.  Search for "Gabriel Ortiz" in the Source Name field. 

Project Highlight

Uruguay: Progressive Tradition 


Photographs by Gabriel Ortiz

What prompted your focus on these sites? Did you travel specifically to visit/document these projects, or was this an incidental part of a larger trip?
While taking Professor Fernando Lara’s 20th Century Latin America Architecture course I became interested in Uruguay’s architecture, especially Eladio Dieste’s vaulted buildings. But perhaps more important for my own research interests is the fact that this country, despite being one of the smallest in Latin America, is known for its progressive policies. I wanted to analyze the role that urban planning has in a country with a very strong democratic and progressive tradition. Therefore, I traveled to Montevideo which represents 50% of Uruguay’s population in order to document its public spaces as a proxy to capture its political and social environment.   

Any general thoughts about the places highlighted in the photos? What do you like about these subjects? What draws you to study these built environments?
The thing that stuck with me the most was the fact that in Montevideo there are very few glass buildings; I am referring to a lack of buildings in the style that started to sprout in cities around 1980. It felt to me as if the city's urban fabric was stuck in time. There is rarely a sign that Montevideo was affected by postmodern architecture. Most of the buildings I photographed are either Modern or Neo-Classical. Thus, despite being politically progressive, Uruguay is architectonically very traditional.
 
Is there a specific project you found most interesting?
Eladio Dieste’s churches are perhaps the most interesting projects I photographed not only because of the organic shapes of the buildings and Dieste’s mastery of the brick but also because they are indicative of Uruguay’s cultural values. I visited the Cristo Obrero church in Atlántida on a Saturday, since churches tend to be open to the public on weekends. To my surprise, after a rather long trip to Atlántida, the doors of the church were locked, which is why I do not have interior photos of this building. When I visited Dieste’s renovation of the San Pedro church in Durazno I found that it was empty. I got there around 9 am and revisited it around 5 pm and in both cases no one was praying. That made me bold enough to take photos from the altar, something I would never be able to do in a Mexican or Colombian church. In other words there seems to be a stark contradiction between Dieste’s awe-inspiring religious architecture and Uruguay’s secular tradition.  
 
Edificio Panamericano  (Pan-American Building)
Montevideo
Montevideo, Uruguay

Accession # 2015-2329
To browse all images donated by Gabriel Ortiz, visit the VRC's online image collection. Log in using your EID and select the "Advanced Search" option.  Search for "Gabriel Ortiz" in the Source Name field. 
Gabriel Ortiz
Iglesia de San Pedro (Saint Peter's Church)
Durazno
Durazno, Uruguay
Accession# 2015-2335
Cristo Obrero y Nuestra Señora de Lourdes (Church of Christ the Worker and Our Lady of Lourdes)
Atlántida
Canelones, Uruguay
Accession # 2015-2371
Estación Central General Artigas (former Central Railway Station) 
Montevideo
Montevideo, Uruguay
Accession # 2015-2307
Palacio Legislativo (Legislative Palace) 
Montevideo

Montevideo, Uruguay
Accession # 2015-2287
Iglesia de San Pedro (Saint Peter's Church)
Durazno
Durazno, Uruguay
Accession # 2015-2347
Estación Central General Artigas (former Central Railway Station) 
Montevideo
Montevideo, Uruguay
Accession # 2015-2302
Mercado Agricola (Produce Market)
Montevideo 
Montevideo, Uruguay
Accession # 2015-2280
Iglesia de San Pedro (Saint Peter's Church)
Durazno
Durazno, Uruguay
Accession # 2015-2341
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Copyright © 2015 UTSOA Visual Resources Collection, All rights reserved.
v. 5, no. 2 (April 2015)

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