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PhD Candidate Daniel Menzo uses Kusama Award to conduct on-site dissertation research in Medellín, Colombia

Daniel Menzo at Benjamín de la Calle

Daniel Menzo, PhD Candidate in Art History & Criticism, received a Kusama Award from the Department of Art to conduct archival research that will support his dissertation project, currently titled “Ambiguous Traces: Queerness and Care in the Photographic Archive of Benjamín de la Calle (1869–1934).” This August, Daniel has been in Medellín, Colombia looking at a selection of silver gelatin glass plate negatives held at La Biblioteca Pública Piloto that the studio photographer made from 1905-1925. Throughout his research, Daniel has been able to identity conflicting representations of “el hombre moderno” (the modern man) in Medellín at the turn of the twentieth century. Daniel will continue to investigate how these studio portraits form a spectrum from el campesino to el caballero (farmer to gentleman) with an ambiguous “dandy” type in between, that together provide rather queer examples of men affectionately posing together at such a transitional moment in the city’s industrial modernization. Daniel has been working closely with archivist and collection manager Jackeline García Chaverra (seen here), and he’s also been talking with local historians and scholars to get a better grasp of how Benjamín de la Calle’s photography studio functioned as a social and liberal space in the heart of Medellín a century ago.