La Calle brings together more than thirty years of photography from the streets of Mexico by Alex Webb, spanning 1975 to 2007. Whether in black and white or color, Webb’s richly layered and complex compositions touch on multiple genres. As Geoff Dyer writes, “Wherever he goes, Webb always ends up in a Bermuda-shaped triangle where the distinctions between photojournalism, documentary, and art blur and disappear.” Webb’s ability to distill gesture, light, and cultural tensions into single, beguiling frames results in evocative images that convey a sense of mystery, irony, and humor.
Following an initial trip in the mid-1970s, Webb returned frequently to Mexico, working intensely on the U.S.–Mexico border and into southern Mexico throughout the 1980s and ’90s, inspired by what poet Octavio Paz calls “Mexicanism—delight in decorations, carelessness and pomp, negligence, passion, and reserve.” La Calle presents a commemoration of the Mexican street as a sociopolitical bellwether—albeit one that has undergone significant transformation since Webb’s first trips to the country. Newly commissioned pieces from noted Mexican and Mexican American authors lend further insight into the roles the streets have played for generations: part arterial network, part historical palimpsest, and part absurdist theater of the everyday.
Alex Webb (born in San Francisco, 1952) has published eleven books, including Memory City (2014) and Violet Isle: A Duet of Photographs from Cuba (2009) with Rebecca Norris Webb, as well as a survey of his color work, The Suffering of Light (Aperture, 2011). Webb became a full member of Magnum Photos in 1979. His work has been shown widely, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. He has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007 and the Leica Medal of Excellence in 2000.