New York Times Magazine photos on display in Chilean capital

Visual essays going back 25 years showcase the publication’s diverse and pioneering photo documentation.

On show at Universidad Católica until May 31, the exhibition “New York Times Magazine: Fotografías” displays 126 works by 35 artists and photojournalists who worked under Kathy Ryan during her quarter century as photo editor.

The magazine’s emotive and eclectic style is evident as the viewer walks between the 10 modules, skipping from Times Square to Afghan battle fields, from portraits of movie stars to 9/11 memorials.

Ryan curates the exhibition along with Lesley A. Martin, publisher of the Aperture Foundation’s book program. The show is one of Aperture’s Travelling Exhibitions, a series of eight-week exhibitions hosted at museums and institutions around the world.

As well as the published layout of each photo essay, contextual material supports each module, clueing viewers in on editorial procedure. Contact sheets, snapshots and personal tear sheets offer insight into the creative process, following projects from initial ideas to publication.

The publication’s ability to blur the line between art and traditional photo documentation is particularly evident in one of the more expansive modules, Sebastião Salgado’s photo essay “The Kuwaiti Inferno.”

The essay centers on the aftermath of the Gulf War when, before retreating from Kuwait, Iraqi occupiers ignited and compromised hundreds of oil wells that spewed millions of gallons of crude oil onto the desert sand.

Salgado documented the plight of civilian workers charged with extinguishing and capping the unchecked wells. In the images, the dispiriting enormity of the task is visible on the faces of the workers — who were described by Salgado as “ants moving a mountain” — as they agonise over one well while dozens burn brightly around them.

“New York Times Magazine: Fotografías” is on display in the Sala Blanca exhibition room of Universidad Católica’s Centro de Extensión building, Alameda 390. Entry is free from 10 a.m to 8 p.m. For further information visit Aperture’s website.

By Angus McNeice