Photos Document Urban Encounters



BAR HARBOR — Diana Escobedo Lastiri will be showing “Transient Encounters,” an exhibit of photographs taken in South America, at College of the Atlantic’s Blum Gallery from Wednesday, May 27 through Saturday, May 30. At 4:30 p.m., as part of the May 27 opening which runs from 4 to 6 p.m., Ms. Lastiri will discuss her book of images and stories from the Mexican town of Juchitán in Oaxaca, “Entre Comadres.” The exhibit and book are part of Ms. Lastiri’s senior project. She graduates in June.

“Iglesia del patron” is part of a show by Diana Escobedo Lastiri at the Blum Gallery.

The photographs – 28 black-and-white images, each mounted in a handmade frame, feature work from two urban portfolios. “Aires Buenos” offers a portrait of the city of Buenos Aires; “Ni lo Mande Dios” contains photos from urban Peru. Ms. Lastiri began these urban portfolios in Paris, with “Strangers in Paris (or Secrets),” which she exhibited at the Blum Gallery last fall.

“I look at people,” she says. “I am drawn to photograph the ordinary and the daily lives in urban settings. In a city everyone is a stranger but there is a strange mix of loneliness and companionship; there is love, hunger, youth, old age, sanity, insanity, happiness, sadness, insecurities, facts, rules.”

In each image of “Aires Buenos” lies a secret and a story: the old man with the young girl; the shy couple sitting at the park under a heart-shaped tree, in the background a passionate couple kissing; the falling strap of a girl who is not wearing a bra, and the man with various tattoos sharing a drink with her while staring.

Ms. Lastiri’s book on Juchitán focuses on women. Juchitán, located in the south of Mexico on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and is known for its approaches to gender relations. It is a place where muxes, male homosexuals, are considered a third gender. Many traditions related to marriage, virginity, festivities and other communal activities involve pre-conquest rituals blended with Catholic beliefs.

In Juchitán, Ms. Lastiri stopped to talk to every woman and muxe she found, hence the title of her book, “Entre Comadres,” roughly translated as “Between Women.” Of each she asked, “Could you please tell me a story? Any story you want to share.”

“I am passionate about gender and religion,” said Ms. Lastiri. “In other words, I am passionate about human relations. It is my passion that guides my practice.” The book, she adds, blurs the invisible lines between the disciplines of photography, writing, documentary, gender studies, cultural studies and ethnography. It is also the culmination of her education in human ecology.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Ms. Lastiri finished high school at the Mahindra United World College of India. She leaves COA as a fashion, street and underwater photographer and has been recipient of multiple awards and honors.

All photos are available for sale, in part as funding for Ms. Lastiri’s next urban portfolio, which will be a photographic exploration of New York City. “Entre Comadres” is also available for purchase, both at the opening and at www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/682582. Funds will be used to thank the women and muxes from Juchitán. More of Ms. Lastiri’s work can be seen at her website at www.desclas.com, or write [email protected].

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