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Los Jardines de México

January 25 - April 14, 2013
Exhibition Opening Reception: Friday, January 25, 6:00-8:00 pm
Artist's Talk, Book Signing and Reception: March 29, 6:00-8:00 pm
Untitled 9, from the series, La Fosa Común

"She does the same as the Mexican animists—the indigenous people who, like their antecedents, saw plants and animals as equals, and even as superior beings worthy of reverence….” —José Antonio Aldrete-Haas, Architect, Landscape Designer, Writer, Mexico City

Los Jardines de México presents three related bodies of work, La Fosa Común, Akna and El Jardín de Juegos. Images of overlooked or obscure urban and rural landscapes, they explore aspects of the life cycle—loss, death, regeneration—while simultaneously celebrating life and its intricate beauty.

La Fosa Común is a series of photographs made with an 8x10 camera in Mexico City’s common grave. The site is a burial place for the indigent and unidentified. Also made with an 8x10 camera, Akna is a series of portraits of tree stumps in a nature reserve that explores the theme of rebirth. “Akna,” in Mayan, means “mother” and is the goddess of birth and fertility. Made with a 4x5 camera, El Jardín de Juegos depicts the relics of a children’s recreation area, void of people and eclipsed by nature and neglect.

“Lynch manages to create pictorial order and locate the sites of subtle drama within these Mexican gardens. Her approach has an exquisite lightness of touch, which ensures that the meaning of her photographs is neither too literal nor over-prescribed.” —Charlotte Cotton, Curator and Writer, London


La Fosa Común (2007) is a series of urban landscape photographs made in Mexico City's common grave. The work explores mortality and the coexistence of life and death. Established in 1905 and still in use today, the common grave functions as a mass burial site for corpses of the indigent and unidentified. Centrally located within the metropolis, it is part of the Panteón Civil de Dolores, the city's largest cemetery. Concrete walls separate the two spaces and public access to the common grave is prohibited. Trees, flora, wildflowers—the surrounding landscape is a harmonious composition of vegetation in various stages of the life cycle. It served as a metaphorical laboratory for my photographic investigation about loss and death, as well as the persistence and beauty of life."

This project was made possible by a generous 8x10 Kodak Professional Portra 160 film grant.
Untitled 1, from the series, La Fosa Común

Josephine, from the series, Akna

Akna (2006) is a series of portraits of tree stumps that explores the theme of regeneration. The stumps, covered with epiphytes, such as ferns, mosses and orchids, act as a support structure for the plants. Epiphytes are not parasitic, they only need a stable foundation from which to grow. They feed off of the air and rain. Thus, despite being truncated, the stumps emerge from dormancy and experience a vicarious rebirth as a nurturing source for other life. Anthropomorphized through photography, they function as metaphors for perseverance and resiliency. I ascribed each figure its own personality, age and gender and named the images after people in my life who served similar nurturing roles. “Akna,” which in Mayan means “mother,” is the goddess of fertility and birth. The title refers to the role the stumps play in relation to the plant life. I made the work in El Huitepec, a nature reserve in Chiapas.”

This project was made possible by a generous 8x10 Kodak Professional Portra 160 film grant.

El Jardín de Juegos (2002-2003) is a series of images that investigates representations of loss in an abandoned playground adjacent to the city’s largest cemetery. I made the work in 2002-2003 after I moved from New York to Mexico City, where I lived for three years. Intuitively drawn to the space by the dilapidated play structures, overgrown vegetation and diffused light, I used a 4x5 camera as a tool to explore loss, a practice that dates back to the medium’s invention with its use for post-mortem and mourning photography. As Roland Barthes posited in Camera Lucida, loss is inherent in the medium. Photography is a sign of absence, not presence.”
Untitled 2, from the series, El Jardin de Juegos


Janelle Lynch has garnered international recognition over the last decade for her large-format photographs of the urban and rural landscape. She received an MFA in Photography and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She teaches at the International Center of Photography in New York and is a 2013 Artist-in-Residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY.

Lynch’s River series is on view through Spring 2013 at the Newark Museum, Newark, NJ. She has also exhibited at the George Eastman House Museum, Rochester, NY, Festival International de Mode et de Photographie à Hyères, Hyères, France, Foto Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Photographic Resource Center, Boston, MA, and Museo Archivo de la Fotografía, Mexico City, Mexico. Her work is in several public and private collections, including the George Eastman House Museum, Rochester, NY, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, Fundación Vila Casas, Barcelona, Spain, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Salta, Argentina, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, and Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA.

Her first monograph, Los Jardines de México, was published to critical acclaim by Radius Books in 2011 and a new monograph of her work Janelle Lynch: Barcelona is forthcoming by Radius in 2013.

Lynch, also a freelance writer, is a 2012-2013 Fellow at The Writers' Institute, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY. She lives in New York City and the Catskill Mountains.

Click HERE for more information about Janelle Lynch.

The El Jardín de Juegos series and the La Fosa Común series are Digital-C Prints.
The Akna series are Ink-jet prints.

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