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BOOK LAUNCH + PANEL DISCUSSION: Arturo Soto's 'In the Heat' with Dr Paul Edwards and Dr Rolando de la Guardia Wald

  • St. Cross College 61 St Giles' Oxford, England, OX1 3LZ United Kingdom (map)

On Friday, 27 April, in partnership with St Cross College and Oxford Urbanists, we are joined by our panellists, Paul Edwards and Rolando de Guardia Wald, to discuss Arturo Soto’s debut photobook, In the Heat. The discussion will be moderated by Sai Villafuerte.

Panama’s presence in the collective unconscious is frequently limited to its famous canal, exotic sceneries and recent political history. In the book In the Heat, however, the vibrant country displayed in travel brochures is purposefully absent. Arturo Soto leaves out this typical imagery in which colour is used to promote prepackaged experiences.

In the Heat is a subjective depiction of Panama’s urban landscape. The banal spaces in the work of the Mexican photographer contradict conservative notions of progress and economic growth.

Even though the project is not meant as a social critique, it does attempt to capture the varying social values and disparities located in the urban environment. The title references Panama’s humid climate. 

Arturo Soto (1981, Mexico) is a photographer and writer. He holds an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, an MA in Art History from University College London and undergraduate degrees in Film and Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Soto has received scholarships from Jumex, CONACyT and FONCA. He currently resides in the UK, where he is a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford. Soto is interested in highlighting the importance of the everyday through the language and conventions of documentary photography. His focus is on the sociopolitical markers contained in urban spaces, while also considering them as a sum of imaginaries that transcend physical space. Website.

Paul Edwards is a Visiting CNRS Researcher at the Maison Française d’Oxford, and Associate Professor in English at Paris Diderot. He specializes in the relations between photography and literature – not only texts engaged with the photographic imaginary, but also printed matter containing photographs. He is also a literary translator and has published widely on Alfred Jarry and his period. While at the Maison Française d’Oxford, Paul will be working on a social and material history of the photobook, more especially the literary photobook, the children’s photobook, and the contemporary photobook.

Rolando de la Guardia Wald worked as a lecturer in history at the Florida State University campus in Panama and at Quality Leadership University - Panama. He is a founding member and spokesman of the recently established Asociación de Antropología e Historia de Panamá. He received his Ph.D in History from University College London, after writing Panamanian Intellectuals and the Invention of a Peaceful Nation (1878-1931), a thesis on the connection between ideas and the different strategies for building national and transnational identities. His main research interests are the history of internationalism, of education, of the political and cultural representations of emotions in Latin America. He also previously worked as a Visiting Research Associate at Oxford’s Latin American Centre where he studied the political, cultural and intellectual impact and legacies of the French attempt to build at canal through Panama (1880-1903).

Anna Isabelle ‘Sai’ Villafuerte is a writer and photographer from the Philippines, and an MPhil candidate at the Oxford Department of International Development. Her research focuses on the impact of the Internet in creative value chains in the Philippine film industry. Her primary medium involves analogue photography techniques complemented by an affective and personal approach to prose and essay writing. She is also the Editorial Coordinator of Oxford Urbanists, and a frequent writer for The Huffington Post. Website.

RSVP (free) here.