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Occasionally, Venegas would photograph the industrial streets behind a Mexico City studio building or a hotel where RBD stayed while on tour, in an attempt to contrast the smoothness inside, which seemed almost ignorant of any other reality, with outside. "The view gives you an idea of class," she says. "There are so many expectations around the subject. People expect a photographer to see it in a certain way."
A photographer is expected to criticize when surrounded by the trappings of privilege. But that expectation is limiting and sometimes misguiding. Consider, for example, a 2006 image by photographer Spencer Platt, taken after an Israeli airstrike destroyed a Beirut neighborhood. Well-dressed young people drive through rubble in a gleaming red convertible, one woman taking photographs with her phone. Because of the stark contrast between them and their devastating surroundings, they were misidentified in print and conversation as affluent gawkers. In fact, they were looking for their home like everyone else.
Only a clear caption could have remedied this misread, which is the situation Venegas tries to avoid. Can't an image invite a nuanced reading without relying on written explanations that detail reality's complications?
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No captions or essays appear in Venegas' book. The image on Inedito's cover also features in the exhibition and shows RBD members backstage in the concrete hallway of an arena. They look like the school kids they play on TV — young, slightly uncertain, distracted. The two security guards flanking them are noticeably bigger and their cosmetically enhanced, TV-star gleam seems dwarfed by the rest of the world.
"The subject is complicated and I hope it becomes more complicated," Venegas says, referring not just to Inedito but to her work in general. "What I mean is, I want more things to seem as though they don't make sense."
YVONNE VENEGAS: BORRANDO LA LINEA | Shoshana Wayne Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., #B1 | Through Aug. 23 | shoshanawayne.com