Sylvie Blocher, an internationally known video artist from France, is tackling a touchy subject in the Latino community with a new exhibit. Bocher was tapped by the San Antonio Museum of Art for Fotoseptiembre USA, their annual photography festival, to put together an exhibit on which deals with the issue of skin color in the Latino community. Blocher’s work will be part of a series of three works titled “The Color of Confusion.”
Blocher says she was inspired to do a piece about skin color because of the numerous times it would come up in conversation. Skin color in the Latino community is not only controversial, but divisive. The subjects being used in Blocher’s video is asked to complete one simple task. To stand in front of the color that they think resembles them.
“It’s very, very interesting,” Blocher said. “The process looks very simple, but it is working inside.”
In one instance Blocher assembled a group of people who did not know each other in front of the camera. One of the subjects began jockeying for position, she said. Another person, videotaped alone, began to weep.
Asked why she chose to stand at the fairest point of the spectrum, Rebeca Barrera, director of Hispanic initiatives at Scholastic responded emotionally.
“That’s what people attack me for all the time,” she said. “It’s so hard to be a Latina with green eyes and white skin and to have a job that is all about Latinos.”
“They take you like an Anglo?” Blocher asked.
“Nobody believes I’m a Latina,” Barrera said. “I have to work so hard to prove it.”
Blocher also conducted interviews with her subjects. Barrera recounted an incident while she was attending Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M- Kingsville), and dealing with segregated dorms. When told the Latino dorm was full, her mother insisted that be placed in the dorm for “other students”. Barrera was placed in an somewhat empty wing with black student. She recalled that her and the roommate pretty much only had each other.
“Even though I was fair and even more fair than many of the non-Latinas in the dorm with us, I was a Mexican-American, so they weren’t going to be my friend,” Barrera said. “But this African-American girl taught me how to make straight A’s.”
FOTOSEPTIEMBRE USA will run from September 1 – 30 in San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country. For more information, you can visit their site: http://fotoseptiembreusa.com/