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Matinee: Jez Smith And Some Real Womxn Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

12 January 2019

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 184th in our series of Saturday matinees today, a double feature beginning with Jez Smith On Photography and followed by LA's Feminist Teen Photographers.

We'll start with Jez Smith, the British fashion photographer who plays a judge on the reality television program Australia's Next Top Model. He's shot all the top models, he tells us, but he's troubled.

For all their beauty, at some point during his shoots all these women could see was their imperfections.

"As a young boy growing up, I was never told to be handsome so I got a good wife," he points out. But girls, he said, are told to be pretty to catch a good husband.

If that's the problem, here's the solution:

It's a portrait of Guatemalan Mayan women in Los Angeles that became the exhibit Mayan Womxn in LA.

Floridalma BojLopez paints the background:

Guatemalan Maya migrants have been coming to Los Angeles in large numbers since the 1970s. It was during this time that the Guatemalan military was carrying out an all-out war and campaign of terror against poor people, Indigenous people, leftists and women. From 1960 to 1996, 200,000 people were murdered, over 40,000 were disappeared, over a million people were displaced and there were hundreds of massacres primarily concentrated in the highlands of Guatemala. Since that time, Guatemalan Mayan migrants and their children have faced a series of challenges in the United States from police brutality, to targeted deportation, to the loss of language and cultural practice. Our project challenges the idea that we should disappear into a general idea of who Latinas/os are. Instead, we ground ourselves in a millennial history and practice of community building.

So Las Photos Project gave six Guatemalan teens, many of whom had no clue about their own heritage, the chance to tell the story of "triumphant narrative of rebellion and endurance" of the Mayan women. In photographs that became the exhibit last May in Los Angeles.

One of those teen photographers, Jasleen Reyes, described what she learned from the project:

What I want people to know is that Mayan womxn play a vital role but are always placed in the back. I want people to know that womxn of color are always put into the back of the shadows, but in this exhibit and what we want people to take out from the exhibit, is that Mayan womxn are the center and the womxn behind the tejidos [curtain] need to be brought to attention and not put in the back.

Whatever their imperfections might be, these Mayan women and their teen photographers exhibit an undeniable beauty.

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