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How has your culture shaped your life and accomplishments?

Lisa Small
Brooklyn Museum
Sep 27, 2011

All eyes will be on you this fall when you enter the Great Hall and encounter the twenty-five massive photographic portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders that comprise The Latino List. Those of you who remember his incredibly popular and thought-provoking 2008 exhibition, The Black List, will recognize this new project as of an extension of that one. This time, some of the most interesting, influential, and accomplished members of the American Latino community—from Sonia Sotomayer to Pitbull—pose in front of Greenfield-Sanders’s large-format camera. The HBO documentary he directed as part of this project transforms these powerful still images into “speaking portraits” whose funny, poignant, and insightful personal narratives collectively explore and celebrate facets of the American Latino experience. A trailer for the film is on view in the gallery and we’re thrilled to be hosting several screenings of the full film

We are also super excited to see how visitors to The Latino List create their own “speaking portraits” at the exhibition’s community voice kiosk, an interactive that was such a successful part of The Black List exhibition that we knew we had to offer it again. During The Black List visitors were invited to record on-the-spot videos of their response to the question: “How has race made an impact on your life and accomplishments?” Videos were published to the museum’s YouTube channel and the best of them could also be viewed in the gallery during the course of the exhibition. I was blown away by the candor, humor, pride, anger, and power in these videos. One of the most fascinating things about the responses was their diversity and range. Not only did each individual naturally have their own personal take on the question, but people reflected on how their own race is perceived and experienced as well as how they perceive and experience people of other races.

For The Latino List we wanted to elicit similarly inclusive and reciprocal responses, so the question we pose to visitors this time—in English and Spanish—is: “How has your culture shaped your life and accomplishments? (¿Qué impacto ha tenido su cultura en su vida y en sus logros?). The word “culture” conjures family and community traditions, and certainly one of the things that unite the stories shared by the Latino List participants is the impact and influences that family and tradition have had on their lives and identities. The word evokes a range of concepts, from race to religion to heritage, without being limiting or exclusionary: everyone comes from a culture of some kind, whether they abandon it or embrace it, and it shapes the way they experience the world and, to some extent, for better or worse, the way the world experiences them.

This time, we’re expanding the interactive to include not just visitors to the gallery, but anyone, anywhere, through a bilingual iPhone app. You can record your video response directly on your iPhone, upload it to The Latino List YouTube channel, learn about the exhibition, and watch videos made by other people.

As always, we want to hear from you: download the app, come to The Latino List, and make a video to share your thoughts about your culture and experiences.

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