This talk examines an important yet neglected post-World War II photographic project set up by the Office of Information for Puerto Rico--an island government agency led by progressive norteamericanos. Office of Information photographers transported a New Deal vision of recording social and economic conditions in American states to an impoverished U.S. territory that had been a Spanish colony for 400 years before the U.S. seizure of the island in the Spanish- American War. How the photographers created and disseminated a visual language that engaged the complexities of the island nation, including its colonial legacy in the context of U.S. imperial ambition, and how they negotiated their shifting roles in a fraught political landscape, are issues central to this investigation.
Laura Katzman received her BA in Fine Arts from New York University and her MA and Ph.D. in Art History from Yale University. She is Professor of Art History at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and currently serves as the 2018-2019 Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. Katzman is co-author of Ben Shahn’s New York: The Photography of Modern Times (Yale University Press, 2000) and principal author of Re-viewing Documentary: The Photographic Life of Louise Rosskam (Penn State University Press, 2014). She is working on a book on a little-known photographic project created in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in the post-World War II era.
Moderation: Nico Anklam M.A.