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Feature Articles

March 2011

Duke University in Durham, NC, Features Works by Petra Barth

Duke University in Durham, NC, is presenting the exhibit, al margen: Photographs of Latin America and the Caribbean by Petra Barthm, on view through May 1, 2011, in two location on the Duke campus including: the Special Collections Gallery in Perkins Library on West Campus and the Frederic Jameson Gallery in the Friedl Building on East Campus.

The exhibit, al margen (or “Living on the Margin”) is the result of seven years of work by Petra Barth in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It is composed of 70 gelatin silver prints mounted in two campus venues. Forty prints are on view at the Frederic Jameson Gallery and an additional thirty prints are on exhibit in the Special Collections Gallery in Perkins Library
Barth’s photography aims “to tell stories about the everyday lives of people living on the margin - their struggles and their dreams.”

Barth offered the following statement, “I use a spontaneous, intimate approach to photograph the daily life of individuals. I look for quiet, reflective moments when people are unaware of the camera and my presence, and genuine feeling is conveyed. Pieced together, these moments describe, with extraordinary clarity, the living conditions all across Latin America and the Caribbean, from Haiti’s streets to the suburbs of Nicaragua and El Salvador, and from the favelas of Rio to the victims of the recent tsunami in Concepcíon, Chile.”

“My photographs reveal moments that are not often depicted because they happen every day. My camera simultaneously captures the unusual in the ordinary and the ordinariness of the unusual. We often see images of devastated landscapes and human suffering in the wake of disastrous events, but that is only one part of life. What happens before, after, and in between these times? Despite struggle, there is also happiness and the ability to move on and create new narratives every day.”

Barth adds, “al margen is a candid photographic work that attempts to establish documentary photography as an art form as well as a method of communication. I would like to raise awareness about the living conditions of those who are marginalized, but I am also interested in people and the beauty of ordinary life.”

This exhibition was organized by the Archive of Documentary Arts and the Archive for Human Rights in Duke’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. The exhibit is sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Program in Latino/a Studies in the Global South, the Department of Cultural Anthropology, International Comparative Studies, and the Duke Human Rights Center.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call 919/660-5968 or visit (

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