Project Iconography of the Mexican Stage PDF
Written by Héctor Quiroga Pérez   


The Photographic Archive Armando de Maria y Campos

When the Theatre Research Center "Rodolfo Usigli" (CITRU) was founded in 1981, the photographic material of the Armando de Maria y Campos Archive became one of the materials that needed to be organized by the Phototheque of the Center. Since 1990 the new Audiovisual Materials Department had transformed into a workshop in which physical cleanliness and reorganization of the scattered materials was the main goal, looking to set up a series of Photo Shows in the Center’s facilities in 1992.


After performing the basic tasks as a photo archivist to preserve the historic materials of the Maria y Campos Archive, my job ended when these materials were transferred to the research area of CNA (National Art Center) to be handed over to the Special Meterials Department of the Library of the Arts.

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Pina Penotti. Prima donna brillante assoluta of the Italian Opera and Operetta Comica Company “Cità di Trieste”of the brothers Pío and Francisco Verona at the Gran Teatro Nacional in 1893.Cabinet-portrait.-Silver solution in self developing paper.G. Marchand. Calle de los Loros No. 4.Puebla. 13 X 19 cm.

After a very productive conversation with Sergio Torres Cuesta, the research coordinator of CITRU, we considered that a digital archive would be a great option, since it would speed up consultation by users and avoid human contact with the original images, which is the main cause of deterioration of photographic materials. A digital archive would facilitate the making of my project "Iconography of the mexican Stage, a history of theatre in Mexico", which would bring into context the photos of the artists that were part of the Maria y Campos Archive. Since March 2002, now helped by the technological know-how of the Digital Graphics Workshop of the Multimedia Center of CNA, we produced an electronic catalog of the 1951 images of the archive in 85 CD ROMs, an index of the photographs plus the contact sheets printed in letter-size paper.


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María Conesa. First Tiple Ballerina of the Maria Conesa Company at the Teatro Principal in1923.Cabinet portrait.
Silver solution in self developing paper.- s.p.i.- 19 X 23 cm.


This interdisciplinary project intends to add an aspect of the artists life that is missing in the cold news reports of the entertainment press. Part of the protocol of the presentation of Mexican and foreign artists to Mexican Society was represented by the photographic studies of the actors, which identified them, put them into a hierarchy and fixed them upon the visual memory of their fans. This pecularity made the artists a showcase for fashion. They were of great importance and in them we see the costumes of the characters that were brought to life by them.

The portrait of an artist on stage has an intrinsic value. It is an important part of the evolution of Photography in Mexico. Much of the work of many wonderful photographers would be in danger of disappearing if it were not by the new technologies which enable their optical and chromatic restoration. The decay of the paper and fading of the images even happens in the best of conditions, and let’s not talk about the normal deterioration sufferd by the portaits of the artists, which at their prime were exposed to strong lights, stained by humidity and the occasional insect and also by the tear drops of the loyal fans and friends that demanded a signed souvenir!!.


It is now the time to try out a new way to enjoy the marvelous work of either 19 th. Century photographers using the wet collodion process or the industrial photomechanic processes used during the first threee decades of the 20th Century.

Hector Quiroga Pérez
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