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Selections from “La Lucha/The Struggle” and “Imagining Cutumba,” a collection of photographer Laurence Salzmann’s black-and-white photographs of young Cuban wrestlers-in-training and digital prints of Ballet Folklórico Cutumba dancers in the city of Santiago de Cuba, respectively, will be exhibited Sept. 3-Oct. 11 in the Williams Center for the Arts gallery.

Two free public events are planned in conjunction with the exhibition. A reception for the artist will be held 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at the gallery. Salzmann will give a brown bag talk noon Monday, Sept. 23, in room 108 of the Williams Center.

The exhibition and events with Salzmann are part of Lafayette’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in September.

The brutal, playful, and graceful aspects of wrestling documented in “La Lucha/ The Struggle” are only one facet of Laurence Salzmann’s most recent body of photographic work. Another facet lies in the struggle toward maturity and manhood by the 11- to 18-year-old wrestlers themselves. Still another aspect is the athletes’ home, Cuba, itself a nation struggling to survive physically and spiritually in a changed world. The photographs of dancers in “Imagining Cutumba” form a counterpoint to the black and white images of the wrestlers.

“I view my photographs as an attempt to create local and international bridges in a visual medium that appeals to people of all ages and cultures,” says Salzmann, who took the title of this series from a sign which, when translated, reads, “Monday to Friday: Wrestling.” The Spanish word lucha not only means “wrestle,” but also “struggle.”

“What fascinates me is the movement, the enthusiasm of people that participate in both wrestling and dancing,” he adds. “[Wrestling] is a metaphor for how our lives are a struggle and we have to overcome things.”

Kristina Wirtz, a graduate student in anthropology at University of Pennsylvania, writing in an essay about the Ballet Folklórico Cutumba photographs, describes them as “rich, smoky monochromes” that are “fantasies of light and movement” which are “part artful exploration of light, [and] one part dance photography.”

The Ballet Folklórico Cutumba, one of Cuba’s oldest dance companies, was founded in 1959 – the same year as the Cuban Revolution. Salzmann captures the dancers in rehearsal in a grand, decrepit, old theater, Teatro de Oriente. Working with available light, Salzmann uses long exposures and multiple exposures to capture the flow of movement, resulting in photographs that are often mysterious. These are in stark contrast to the black-and-white wrestling phototographs, which are more direct and documentary in presentation.

As with much of his previous work, Salzmann’s photographs involve the act of looking across a chasm that urgently needs a bridge. In “Face to Face: Encounters between Jews & Blacks,” an earlier photographic series, he explored racial and religious prejudice.

Salzmann’s photographic work in Cuba earned him a Pew Fellowship in photography and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 2001.

Salzmann received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Temple University. He has had solo exhibitions of his work both nationally and internationally, including in Berlin, Tel Aviv, Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest, Vienna, and New York. His honors have included a grant from National Endowment for the Humanities, an International Research Exchange Commission Grant to Romania, and a Fulbright-Hays Grant to Romania. He has produced several publications, including Face to Face: Encounters between Jews & Blacks in 1996 by Blue Flower Press.

His work is in the collections of Philadelphia Museum of Art; International Center for Photography, New York; Beth Hatefutsoth Museum, Tel Aviv; Jewish Museum, New York; Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and George Pompidou Center, Paris.

Gallery hours are noon-5 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday; and 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and before public performances in the Williams Center, which is located at the intersection of Hamilton and High Streets on Lafayette’s main campus. For more information, call the gallery at 610-330-5361 or email Exhibitions are free and open to the public.

The exhibition series is presented under provisions of the Frederick Knecht Detwiller Endowment. The Williams Center gallery is funded in part through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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