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Hydra + Fotografīa, Mexico City. Three heads of the Hydra serpent in a CMYK color mode

The walls are white-washed, shelves work as canvas, and books as paintings and artefacts. The colors of the book-covers contrast with the walls, curated on shelves, that do not offer spines

The inception of Hydra + Fotografīa

Positioned at Tampico 33, in the art-deco suburb of Roma Norte stands Hydra + Fotografía with its subtractive CMYK colored facade. A platform to generate projects related to the medium of photography, Hydra + Fotografīa, was founded by Ana Casas Broda, Gabriela González Reyes and Gerardo Montiel Klint, in 2012. The space was conceptualized to facilitate photographic creations based on reflection, dialogue and collaboration between associations, institutions and publishers. «Hydra is the guardian of the underground. For instance it is a space that will move energies to recreate. Expand and renew. We work in a horizontal way and our endeavor is to create and regenerate. The heads of Hydra signify the perspectives, therefore working on projects as a collective», says Broda.

Ana Casas Broda, who is half-Spanish and half-Austrian, set foot in the world of photography, with the photobook she created for her grandmother, at the age of eighteen. «The interest in photography started when I discovered my grandmother who lived in Vienna took photographs. Thefore I spent fourteen years going back and forth to Vienna creating her photobook while visiting her. Since it was my way of connecting with my grandmother, I realized i loved photography», says Broda. For the photo book, Broda used her grandmother’s letters, diaries, postcards and negatives to weave a story that she wanted to narrate. In addition, the photo book released in 2000 has as title ‘Álbum’. To conclude, the presentation ocurred as a solo exhibition at Centro de la Imagen, Mexico in 2001, Casa de América – PHotoEspaña festival in 2002, and in a number of international venues. 

Hydra + Fotografīa in Mexico City

In Greek mythology, Hydra was a serpent-like water monster with nine heads, one of which was immortal. Hydra’s heads had a regenerative ability. Each time they cut off one head, two emerged from the stump, symbolizing rebirth. Hidden on the island of Argos, the Hydra would target the livestock and population near Lerna. In the Hydra myth, Hercules killed the monster as the second of his Twelve Labors. Therefore, Hercules required the assistance of his nephew Iolaus to cut off of the monster’s heads and burn the neck using a sword and fire. 

Gabriela González Reyes and Gerardo Montiel Klint

Broda met her partners at the Centro de la Imagen, where she was in charge of the educational programs, Gabriela González Reyes managed the archives, and Gerardo Montiel Klint was commencing his photography career as a student. «Gerardo and I started doing projects together. I would invite him to teach because he has in-depth knowledge on the subject of photography», says Broda.

The partners at Hydra + Fotografía work as a team, but focus on the domain they master in. Reyes has a major in conservation, cataloging and administration of photographic archives; cultural management and promotion. Klint, a photographer, teacher and columnist, is likes the confrontation of the photographic image as a phenomenon of transition and its repercussions on the public imagination. His professional activities include exhibitions of his photographic works. Hence consulting for museums and publishers, and theoretical production. 

Lampoon, Secreto, photography Nelson Garrido
Secreto, photography Nelson Garrido

Activities and exhibitions at Hydra + Fotografía

Klint handles mounting of the exhibitions and teaches at the program, Reyes takes care of the archives and curates the exhibitions, Ana manages the photo books and the educational programs. Hydra + Fotografía, covers an area of two-hundred and fifty square meters, which is Brodo’s home. Besides, the ground floor covers the bookstore and the library sections. The top floor functions as a dedicated educational-space with a room on the terrace. This is to say it lodges facility for the outstation teachers. «I live on the floor between the two», says Broda. 

The bookstore is at the front of the house. Behind it, the garage and patio areas became the gallery and the exhibition space. «The first thought was to develop a studio space and a bookstore. The education center came later. Every time we add an activity to our program, then we occupy a part of my home», says Broda. Inside the bookstore, the walls are painted white, shelves work as canvas, and books as paintings and artefacts. Given that, the colors of the book-covers contrast with the walls, curated on shelves, that do not offer spines. They offer photo books from publishers around the world through their store and online shop. «We are the only store in Mexico that stocks photo books», says Broda.

Roma Norte Barrio

The bookstore attracts photographers, artists, collectors and academicians. Among them are photo books from publishers like Self Publish Be Happy, Akina Books, Mack, Mörel Books, Kessels Krammer, Archive of Modern Conflict, Dalpine, Calisidreeditions and Dashwood Books. They offer to import photo books that are not on their stock list, on request. The logo, namely the Hydra serpent from the Greek Mythology, with three heads in a CMYK color model, was designed by Dr. Alderete, an Argentinian illustrator living in Mexico City.

Alejandro Marote, a Mexican artist, was commissioned to design the facade of the shop, using geometric-patterns and Hydra’s brand colors. «I had invited him to do a workshop and we thought, ‘why don’t we make a mural on the facade as a part of the exercise’. While he made the design, we painted it», says Broda. Characterized by art nouveau and neo-classical architecture, the neighborhood of Roma Norte was built in the Twenties. After the earthquake in 1985, the locality has gone through gentrification. «By all means it has attracted creatives», says Broda. At the center of Mexico City’s culinary and artistic zeitgeist, this barrio is populated with bookstores, art galleries, and restaurants. 

Inframundo, Hydra + Fotografīa’s publishing label 

Their exhibition gallery is a curatorial space. Juan Foncuberta’s project Mitclán, a photographic hauntology book, is the exhibition in focus as of today. This project is a part of the Inframundo, Hydra’s publishing label. «We started with collective exhibitions and progressed to projects from people who made the books with us. In addition the teachers we invite to teach at the workshop exhibit at the gallery. Overall we don’t follow any formulae», says Broda.

Hence Hydra + Fotografía has developed an educational program that addresses the cycles of creation, production and circulation of author’s projects. With seminars, workshops, diploma courses, production programs, consultancy and project reviews. As a result it creates a platform for reflection, dialogue, and conservation of works. «Education is a part of our work process, opening paths of exploration and creation. After all it is based on collaboration and dialogue between creators, curators, researchers, publishers, collectors and the public interested in photography», says Broda. 

Lampoon, Grassa Crua Foripa Tainá Bernardi, photography Fernanda Malgahaes
Grassa Crua Foripa Tainá Bernardi, photography Fernanda Malgahaes

Hydra + Fotografīa: incubadora de Fotolibros program

In 2016, they launched Incubadora de Fotolibros, an eleven-month educational program, that provides the authors with the tools to develop their photobooks and the support of international-editors, designers, and curators. Notably, they choose participants through a selection process, to ensure the projects have the potential to develop through the program. «I make our educational programs affordable. Otherwise it would not be of interest if it was populated by the people who can afford it», says Broda. Industry leaders are invited to take lectures at Incubadora de Fotolibros. Therefore some of them include: Ramon Pez, Timothy Prus, Horacio Fernández, Agustín Estrada, Calin Kruse, Yumi Goto, Lukas Birk, and Moriz Neumüller. «Yumi Goto, an artist from Japan, who taught at the second edition of the Incubadora, introduced inkjet and laser printing to the program. That is to say she has been a force in our program development», says Broda.

Hydra + Fotografía online program Regenerate 2020

In 2018, as a result of Incubadora de Fotolibros, Hydra + Fotografía launched its publishing label Inframundo in collaboration with the Italian designer, Ramon Pez. Pez manages photo books for Thames & Hudson. Born as a collective project publishing twenty-four photo books presented at international art fairs. «We asked for grants for these projects and within two months we had finished publishing them. We decided this is the way we are going to do it going forward. It is a collective project as each author is in charge of their book», says Broda. As a result of the pandemic crisis, Hydra + Fotografía began their online program Regenerate 2020. 

Crowd-funding project to raise money

«I realized it is easier to talk to someone in India than my neighbors. I used my contacts in countries, pulled strings, and started it. With prerecorded-lesson sessions and online tutor assistance, the program surpasses a zoom call», says Broda. They are running a crowd-funding project on their website, thus raising money for the projects while they wait for their publication.

One of them is Diego Moreno’s In My Mind There Is Never Silence, an artist from Chiapas, Mexico. The book is a photo narrative of the monster dance in Chiapas, a five-hundred-year-old tradition. «Each family builds a panzudo, the monster, which represents sins. By all means, the atonement corresponds to the attire of the monster», says Broda. Between texts and images this photo book takes us through the pre-Hispanic traditions and apocalyptic-visions of the Catholic region. Broda hopes to find a way to print books in countries other than hers, in order to alleviate the import-export complications. 

Ana Casas Broda career

Broda’s photography career kickstarted in 1986 when she assisted the veteran Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo. She then worked at the Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid from 1989 to 1993. In 1994 she founded the Education area of Centro de la Imagen, a state-run photography center, where she worked until 1998. She organized three-hundred workshops in one year with people visiting from the world over. From 2000 to 2006 she worked as a coordinator of the FotoGuanajuato Program, a study program and festival organized by the Instituto de Cultura de Guanajuato and the Centro de la Imagen.

In the last decade, Broda has been coordinating the Seminario de Fotografía Contemporánea [contemporary-photography seminars] of the Centro de la Imagen with the Centro de las Artes de San Agustín. Her photo book ‘Kinderwunsch’, published by La Fábrica in 2013, won the Best Art Book Award by the Spanish Ministry of Art, Culture and Sports in 2014. In conclusion her work focuses on the exploration of identity, memory and its link with the photographic medium. She has presented her work in solo shows in Mexico, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Uruguay, and other countries.

Hydra + Fotografīa

Tampico 33, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México, Mexico

Independent space based on reflection and production to build new forms of creation in the field of photography. This is what Hydra + Fotografīa is about.

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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