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Photos spread word of environment

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Environment. It’s the aggregate of surrounding things, conditions or influences.

It’s also about ecology – the air, water, minerals, organisms and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time.

Or it can come down to the social and cultural forces that shape the life of a person or population.

If you go
WHEN: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays; through May 31
WHERE: Instituto Cervantes at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth SW

However it’s defined, the exhibition “E•CO” at the Instituto Cervantes showcases the various environments around Latin America and Europe. The 100-photograph collection was curated by Barcelona, Spain, native Claudi Carreras. Carreras narrowed the original 300-piece show so it would fit in the Instituto Cervantes.

“It was a lot of work,” he says. “I wanted to make sure that there was enough in the photos to make the same impact that a big show would get.”

The exhibit has been shown in Spain, Washington, D.C., Miami and Chicago. After the run in Albuquerque, it will move to New York City.

Carreras says “E•CO” is comprised of photographic projects by 20 Latin American and European photographic collectives. Each collective was tasked with crafting a visual essay about the environment and shows a sample of the most pressing environmental problems where each collective is operating.

“Each area has its own environmental problems,” Carreras says. “Usually, we are only aware to the problems around us. But the truth is, there are problems around the world and many of them are very similar.”

He says he traveled for two years around Latin America searching for collectives that were interested in the project. The entire project was commissioned by the Spanish Ministry of Culture.

“We were looking for photos that made an impact and really brought to light what was going on in the countries,” he says. “The collection that we have put together is a powerful look at the problems that the world is facing.”

Carreras says the collective from Brazil examines how the country is experiencing torrential rains and dealing with the floods and landslides that occur.

He says the Argentina collective delves into the problems of the Riachuelo river.

“This river is so polluted that not many organisms can live in it,” he says. “It’s supposed to be a source of water for the area, but they can’t drink from it. They are dealing with a serious problem and it’s important for others to know about it.”

Carreras says although photography collectives are not a new phenomenon, in recent years they have acquired special relevance and an ever greater international presence.

“News channels no longer wait for professionals to arrive at the scene of an event. They cover it using images captured on security cameras or the cell phones of chance witnesses,” he says.

Carreras was pleased that “E•CO” has the opportunity to be shown in Albuquerque.

“There is a lot of Latin America and Spanish culture in New Mexico, and our exhibits don’t often get a chance to be seen in an area like this,” he says. “I just wanted to put together the most poignant exhibit.”