Celebrating the Dignity of Man through Fifty Years of Photography

Peacefully shrouded from the clamor and chaos of Santiago’s hectic streets, the Silvia Piñeiro exhibition room in the Montecarmelo art center in Bellavista was the ideal location for the Universidad Católica’s Photography Contest: Fifty Years of UC Art.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Natali Estay

Boasting a series of photographs from twenty UC students and alumni, the contest focused on the theme El trabajo como dignificación del hombre, or “The Dignity of Man through His Work.” A few solitary moments surrounded by the powerful photographs in this room allowed viewers to appreciate the unity and spirit of man through the resolve and determination revealed in everyday life.

Though all the photographs merit recognition, there were a select few that deserve mentioning. The north wall of the room proudly showed off the first place, second place and honorable mention photographs, all three of which interpreted the determination of man in their own unique ways.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Natalie Estay

The honorable mention photograph, taken by Carlos del Rio Larraín in June of 2007, depicted a thin, yet muscular, man with skin leathered by years in the sun and a body burdened by manual labor. The subject of the photograph is about to toss a watermelon to an unknown recipient, a look of strain and anguish defining his mood and that of the photograph itself. His ability to defeat and overcome the obvious sense of weariness and fatigue speaks to the resolve of the human spirit.

In second place, Javiera Torres Riveros’ photograph, taken in February 2004, portrayed a peddler trudging dejectedly down a neglected street with a graffiti message about justice on the cement wall in the background. There is something blatantly ironic about the inscription of the word “justicia” (justice) positioned above the working man in this photograph, as if to say that justice paradoxically looks down on the working man, rather than supports and provides for him.

Santiago Chile

In first place was a simple, yet moving, image taken by Juan Cristóbal Diaz in September 2009, of a police officer on a motorcycle, his face sharply focused in the rearview mirror. With its short depth of field, rendering the rest of the image blurry, it is arguable that the technical focus of the man’s face in the mirror reflects (no pun intended) his personal focus and commitment to his work.

The exhibit featured countless other stunning photographs; the black and whites were particularly intriguing. One, though taken only a year ago, had an air of nostalgia to it, depicting a man in an aged beret peering intently into an antique camera. Another conveyed the portrait of an elderly man with a furrowed brow in sharp focus, his violin blurry in the foreground, his eyes knowingly guarding the enigma of secrets collected throughout his life.

Though this Universidad Católica photography exhibit has ended, the Montecarmelo Art Center regularly hosts a variety of art exhibitions. Visit Montecarmelo for more information on upcoming events.


Bellavista 0594
Santiago, Chile

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