William Camargo

Person With Chair on Head Holding Ball

William Camargo, All That I Can Carry #2, Inkjet Print, 2020



October 24, 2022 – December 9, 2022
Artist Talk: October 24, 2022 @ 6PM
Opening Reception: October 24, 2022 @ 7-9PM

The Cerritos College Art Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of recent work by the OC-based photographer William Camargo.

Central to Camargo’s ongoing practice is a deep investigation of community and lived place, as well as the modes of representation that are used to alternately obscure and/or reveal both. Though he spent years as a documentative photographer and news photojournalist in Chicago and beyond, his recent work focuses much closer to home, specifically the inland Orange County neighborhood of Anaheim in which he was born and raised. Through carefully-crafted portraits of friends, family, and community members, Camargo seeks to convey the uniquely personal characteristics of his sitters, while also celebrating the shared cultural expressions of the community in which they(/he) live(s). His decidedly humanistic eye seeks out and honors the individual, while never loosing sight of how each person exists relative to one another and within a shared space of embodiment activated through the particular visual aesthetics, decidedly Latinx, of the region.
Camargo is equally as thoughtful with the mediation of his own body, including in a number of conceptually-oriented photographic projects, selections of which are also presented within the exhibition: All That I Can Carry, Origins and Displacements, and As Far As I Can Get

In All That I Can Carry, Camargo presents an alternative form of self-portraiture, one in which his face and body are obscured by the everyday items of his immediate domestic surroundings. While on one hand, these images could be read as a commentary on the economic constraints of late-stage capitalism, or even the physical limits of the body itself, they also manage to convey a subtly alien and/or futuristic presence, as if Camargo is cosplaying as a kind of tongue-in-cheek rasquache cyborg. 

In a similarly composed series of self-portraits, Origins and Displacements, Camargo holds up large hand-written signs in front of his face, each presenting an oft-ignored or largely-forgotten historical truism about the locations on which he plants his feet These powerful statements are part of a larger long-term research project conducted by the artist to uncover the untold stories from Anaheim’s racist past, frequently repackaged in the present as acts of police violence, capitalist exploitation, and gentrification. 

In As Far As I Can Get, Camargo recreates a famous event-based photographic process originally developed by conceptual photographer John Divola. Placing the camera on a tripod and setting a timer, the photographer runs into the frame of the image, the scale of their imaged body relative to how much distance they are able to cover in the allotted time. But where Divola’s work was a Fluxus-style game of tag between artist and camera, Camargo’s series alters the context simply through the obvious referent of his own brown body, shown frantically running away from the viewer. The fact that Camargo began this project shortly after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man killed while jogging, only further highlights the simple privileges afforded to certain bodies, which are too-often denied to others.

William Camargo is a photo-based artist and educator born and raised in Anaheim, California. He is currently the Chair of the Heritage and Culture commission in Anaheim and a lecturer in photography at the University of California San Diego and Cal State Fullerton. He attained his Master of Fine Arts from Claremont Graduate University, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Cal State Fullerton, and an Associates degree at Fullerton Community College. Camargo is the founder and curator of Latinx Diaspora Archives, an archive Instagram page that elevates communities of color through family photos. He uses photography, installation, public interventions, and archives to address issues of gentrification, police violence, and Chicanx/Latinx histories. Camargo has held residencies at the Latinx Project at NYU, Light Work in Syracuse, NY, TILT institute for Contemporary Image in Philadelphia, and the Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY. He was a runner-up for the Aperture Portfolio Prize 2021 and was included in the Latinx edition of Aperture Magazine in the Winter of 2022. In addition, he has given lectures at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, Gallery 400 in Chicago, Brown University, Stanford University, Syracuse University, USC Roski School of Art, Scripps College, and the University of Houston.