From the Ground Up is a three-part photographic essay that began twenty years ago. It traces the evolution of the vernacular domestic architecture of the Yucatán peninsula, specifically the one-room dwellings of the region's Maya descendants. Customarily, these houses are constructed of earth and regional materials, such as hay, palm leaves, stones, tree trunks, and branches. These building materials, like the methods of construction, have remained the same for two thousand years. In recent years, the proliferation of modern technology, industrialization, and tourism has brought with it the gradual disappearance of the natural materials that are essential for the building and maintenance of these traditional dwellings. The indigenous dwellings of Yucatán, which are unique and emblematic of the region, are being either transformed into hybrid amalgamations of the past and present, or left to ruin and consequently to gradual extinction.
Eduardo del Valle and Mirta Gómez
Excerpts from their essay in the FOTOFEST2006 catalogue
EDUARDO DEL VALLE & MIRTA GOMEZ From the Ground Up
From the Ground Up is a metamorphosis of the vernacular architecture in the Yucatán Peninsula, México. The ancient building types, constructed by hand from organic materials, are beautifully made with a kind of personal attention no longer familiar to us. The images function as a kind of documentation of a disappearing form of architecture. The photographs are not meant to cast judgment but rather to preserve history.
The Cuban-born husband and wife team of Eduardo del Valle and Mirta Gómez have worked collaboratively for more than thirty years, receiving international acclaim for their photographs of subjects in a state of flux. From the Ground Up, the first monograph of their work, is a three-part photographic essay focusing on the metamorphosis of the vernacular domestic architecture in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. This fascinating study, comprising photographs taken from the mid-1980s to 2002, is surely the most extensive and comprehensive record of the design and evolution of this region’s built structures. This highly acclaimed monograph, published by The Nazraeli Press (2003), contains 96 color plates with essays by Sandra S. Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Richard Rodriguez, author and essayist on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. Book blurb by, John Szarkowski, Director Emeritus, Department of Photographs, Museum of Modern Art, N.Y. Del Valle and Gómez are the recipients of numerous artists fellowships and awards including the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1997); Oscar B. Cintas Foundation (1989 and 1996); South Florida Cultural Consortium (1993); National Endowment for the Arts (1976 and 1990); Florida Art Council (1987) and New York State Council for the Arts (1979). Their photographs were exhibited in the groundbreaking Inaugural Exhibition 2004 marking the reopening of The Museum of Modern Art, New York City. Their work is widely exhibited in the U.S. and abroad and is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, NY; Paine Webber Photographic Collection, NY; Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California and New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana. Their work is represented by Chelsea Galleria, Miami; Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.; Jim Kempner Fine Art, NYC and Yancey Richardson Gallery, NYC.
Del Valle and Gómez are Professors of Art/Photography at Florida International University, Miami where they have taught collaboratively since 1983. They are the authors of several monographs, including From the Ground Up (2003); Four Sections of Time (Tucson: Nazraeli Press, 2003), Four Sections of Time (Tucson: Nazraeli Press, 2004), and Fried Waters (Tucson: Nazraeli Press, 2005).
The Museum of Modern Art, NYC, Landscape : Recent Acquisitions Exhibitions, May 26, 2006 – September 4, 2006, http://www.moma.org/
Sections of Time, DVD release available through JGS, INC., Documentary about Eduardo del Valle & Mirta Gomez work in the Yucatan, Mexico. For more information visit The Observer Observed DVD Series: www.jgsinc.org/index2.html
Eduardo del Valle & Mirta Gomez ‘s new book BETWEEN RUNS, comprised of images of where books are made at the Hing Yip printing plant in Dongguan, China, combines elements of traditional Chinese scroll paintings, theatrical backdrops and modern graffiti. BETWEEN RUNS is beautifully printed in process color on matt art paper and case bound on luxurious Chinese brocade silk. Published by Nazraeli Press, in an over-sized format, in a limited edition of just 500 numbered and signed copies, each with an original Type-C photograph printed by the artists tipped on the back page. Introduction by Chris Pichler, Director of Nazraeli Press available December 2006. For more information visit: www.nazraeli.com