In this VII Interactive Book Club meeting, recorded live on May 3, 2020, Tomas van Houtryve discusses his book, Lines and Lineage, where he takes aim at America’s collective amnesia of history. The work addresses the missing photographic record of the period when Mexico ruled what we now know as the American West. To visualize the people and places from the remarkable yet unseen Mexican era, van Houtryve chose to photograph the region with glass plates and a 19th-century wooden camera. His portraits of direct descendants of early inhabitants of the West—mestizo, Afro-Latin, indigenous, Crypto-Jewish—are paired in diptychs with photographs of landscapes along the original border and architecture from the Mexican period. Lines and Lineage also includes historic maps and essays. This book lifts the pervasive fog of dominant Western mythology and makes us question the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West. Lines and Lineage was awarded France’s prestigious Roger Pic Prize and was selected as a finalist for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award. It was published as a monograph by Radius Books in autumn 2019.
This lecture was originally hosted at VII Interactive, a new resource for sharing insights and information on the craft of visual storytelling. We are building different platforms within the VII ecosystem, where the public can engage directly, online with a live instructor. VII Interactive offers programming that is free and available to everyone, in addition to paid classes and individual mentoring that can be fashioned to your needs.