World’s Fairs and photography have been connected since the inaugural exhibition in London at the Crystal Palace in 1851, where daguerreotype cameras, equipment and photographic images were not only displayed but also had a profound impact on its contemporary illustration.
The first American World’s Fair of 1876 in Philadelphia was decisive in its affirmation of the practice and its varied scope in the country commissioning the creation of the Centennial Photography Co. for its survey and devoting a special hall to the exhibition of work by photographic studios, both American and foreign.
This talk explores the role of early photographic displays by Latin American countries — Argentina, Brazil and Mexico— in their national pavilions and at the photographic hall. We will examine how territorial surveys, portraits of political and social elites, landscape vistas, albums of national customs and types were carefully employed in their crafting of a modern nation image within this global stage.
Alejandra Uslenghi is Associate Professor in Spanish & Portuguese and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of Latin America at Fin-de-siecle Universal Exhibitions. Modern Cultures of Visuality (Palgrave, 2007) and specializes on modern Latin American visual culture.
Presented on March 27. 2021.