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La Vida Brinca


Photographs by BILL WITTLIFF

Over the past decade Bill Wittliff has replaced the lenses of some 100 cameras with simple pinholes, returning to photography’s roots in search of ways to render the enduring realities of light and time. Always evocative, often revelatory, the resulting vignettes--which he calls tragaluces (“light swallowers”)--open keyhole views onto an intimate world, with subjects that seem to exist outside the moment in their own private spaces. Titled after Wittliff’s second book published with the University of Texas Press, this celebratory exhibition features almost 60 of his hand-toned silver-gelatin photographs.

Iconic images of Hispanic life predominate the tragaluz photographs in La Vida Brinca. Wittliff photographed fiestas, religious observances, street scenes, people’s faces, and enduring rural landscapes. But with soft focus and surprise elements, these images become dreamlike—scenes from a world where, as Stephen Harrigan says, “reassuring touchstones are likely to dissolve, and where the unseen is always startlingly on view.”

To purchase the book, visit the Wittliff Gift Shop.

Bill Wittliff, of Austin, Texas, is a distinguished photographer and writer whose photographs have been exhibited in the United States and abroad, and has published three monographs with UT Press, including La Vida Brinca, as well as numerous catalogs, books, and periodicals. Cofounder with his wife, Sally, of the highly regarded Encino Press, Wittliff is also a past president and Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters and a recipient of major awards for writing, photography book design, and filmmaking. As a screen writer and producer, his credits include The Perfect Storm, The Black Stallion, Legends of the Fall, and Lonesome Dove, amongothers. The Wittliffs also founded the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos.

Stephen Harrigan, longtime writer for Texas Monthly and many other magazines, is the author of four novels, including Gates of the Alamo (Knopf, 2000), and Challenger Park (Knopf, 2006). His other books are nonfiction and include Water and Light: A Diver's Journey to a Coral Reef (reprinted for the Southwestern Writers Collection Book Series, 1999). Harrigan, who lives in Austin, has also published a book of poetry and written numerous screenplays, one of which, The Last of His Tribe, was broadcast on HBO. The Southwestern Writers Collection is proud to house his major archives.