Chasing the ghost, the traces of oblivion, and the echoes of what was and no longer is, the book Omen is a revision and reframing of the fraction of the photographic archive of the Farm Security Administration (1935-1944) hosted at the New York Public Library. That program—perhaps there is no need to add—was one of the milestones of modern documentary photography, instrumental on the constructing an hegemonic narrative; one mainly about triumph against adversity, division, and catastrophe in the recent history of the United States.
But by stressing the gaze over that monumental set of images, and scrutinizing at the corners of the pictures, at the backgrounds and details—in the secondary characters, in what should not be there, that which appears by chance, accident or error— it is possible to discover a different narrative, one that is thicker, murkier, more troubled, complex, contemporary and contradictory. Both a shatter and an apex: a premonition of the genealogical continuity of the many (tumultuous, visible and invisible, thunderous and silent) systemic violences that make up the face of American society.
A mirror of the distressing reality of the United States in our days, and, a the same time, as a device for reflection on the way historical and documentary photography is read and understood, taking the editorial eye to its ultimate consequences.
Concept and selection by León Muñoz Santini
and Jorge Panchoaga
Edition and printed by Penumbra Foundation