Ilana Boltvinik and Rodrigo Viñas of TRES Art Collective Named 2016 Robert Gardner Fellows in Photography

For Immediate Release


Floating restaurant

Floating Restaurant, 2016 © Ilana Boltvinik and Rodrigo Viñas

(April 13, 2016, Cambridge) The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, is pleased to announce the selection of the 2016 Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography. Following an international search, the Gardner Fellowship committee awarded the Fellowship to Mexican artists Ilana Boltvinik and Rodrigo Viñas (TRES).  The Fellowship carries a $50,000 stipend to begin or complete a proposed project followed by publication of a book.

For their Fellowship year, Boltvinik and Viñas will be developing the second phase of their project Ubiquitous Trash, a beach-waste, art-based, research series, which began in Hong Kong in 2015 and will now expand Western Australian beaches. Trash no longer has a clear frontier. Soda bottles made in China may wash up on a beach in Mexico or Australia; or, medical waste from New York may be found on the beaches of Brazil or Iceland. Trash from anywhere can be found everywhere.  Western Australian beaches are the most polluted in its country. A CSIRO study estimates that more than 150 million pieces of rubbish litter Australia's sand and shores, and research from the Southern Cross University has found that a third of bottles collected in a preliminary survey were from China.  The project draws upon disciplines of biology, archaeology, economics, and anthropology to create a complex understanding of the material waste at hand. An intimate relationship with the objects can be developed through physical descriptions, biological residue analysis, uses, values, decay, and site-specific context.

Boltvinik and Viñas have established a work methodology that involves walks and explorations (inspired by Situationist dérives), as well as scavenging that help them detect and contextualize waste through meticulous observation. According to Boltvinik and Viñas “The intimacy with which we, as a collective, live with trash is extended into an aesthetic experience through photography. We derive a sense of pleasure and voyeurism through the close-ups and panoramic views.” Waste narratives emerge and are made visible with their fieldwork: photography, video and drawing. This work is then complemented and woven in with statistics, interviews, and art-based research to render the global dimension of the problem in a way that it is accessible to others.

Since 2009, TRES Art Collective (Boltvinik and Vinas) has focused on exploring the implications of public space and garbage; in particular, garbage as a physical and conceptual residue with political and material implications. Previous projects have focused on the various aspects or qualities of garbage: its mobility (A Cluster of Oblivion 2009), its spatial traits (Blind Spots 2010), its symbolic value (An Informal Gaze 2009), its aesthetics (Desechos Reservados 2009), its intimacy (All that Shines is Gold 2011), its permanence (Chicle y Pega 2012), and its scientific potential (Urotransfrontation DTC-UR013, 2013).

TRES (Ilana Boltvinik + Rodrigo Viñas, Mexico City) is an art research collective that has focused on exploring the implications of public space and garbage through artistic practices that concentrate on the methodological intertwining and dialogue with science, anthropology, and archaeology among other disciplines.  Their works have been presented in Connecting Spaces, upcoming July, Abandon Normal Devices festival 2015 (UK), Metropolis Biennale 2009 (Denmark), the public art section of the XV Festival of Mexico City FMCH (Mexico City), in the Amsterdam Global City #2: Mexico, WCA World Cinema (Netherlands), ViBGYOR International Film Festival (India), Festival TransitioMX_05 Bio mediations, and Cultural Center of Spain (Mexico City) among others. Individually their works have been shown in over 20 screenings and art exhibitions in Latin America and Europe.

Ilana Boltvinik holds a BA from the National School of the Art, Mexico City and Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Netherlands and is currently working on a PhD on Public space and garbage at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM). She is a faculty member of Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana.  

Rodrigo Viñas holds a NB in Art from the University Claustro de Sor Juana, Mexico City, is a member of the alternative photographic workshops, Mexico City, and is currently completing an MA in photography at UNAM. He was head of exhibitions at Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City from 2012–2014.


Chile-y-pega intervention Chile-y-pega intervention

Chili y Pecha intervencion, 2012 © Ilana Boltvinik and Rodrigo Viñas




About the Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography

The Fellowship funds an “established practitioner of the photographic arts to create and subsequently publish through the Peabody Museum a major book of photographs on the human condition anywhere in the world.” The Fellowship committee invites nominations from experts around the world; nominees are reviewed and selected by a committee of four. The Fellowship provides a stipend of $50,000, and is unique in its dedication to funding professional documentary photography.

The Fellowship was given by Robert Gardner (1925–2014), award-winning documentary filmmaker and author, whose works have entered the permanent canon of non-fiction filmmaking. Gardner’s works include the documentary films “Dead Birds” and “Forest of Bliss” and books The Impulse to Preserve: Reflections of a Filmmaker and Making Dead Birds: Chronicle of a Film. In the 1970s Gardner produced and hosted “Screening Room,” a series of more than one hundred 90-minute programs on independent and experimental filmmaking. The series, considered an invaluable historical record of modern cinema, has been transferred to digital format for archival preservation by The Paley Center for Media in New York City. Robert Gardner received Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Harvard University and was director of the Film Study Center from 1957 to 1997. He was also founder and long-time director of the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts and taught the Visual Arts at Harvard for almost 40 years. Gardner is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His most recent book is Just Representations (Peabody Museum Press and Studio7Arts 2010), a collection of Gardner’s short prose pieces about film and anthropology. In April 2013, Robert Gardner was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal by the Smithsonian Institution. He passed away in 2014.

Robert Gardner Fellowship Recipients

2007 Guy Tillim (South Africa). Tillim’s Fellowship took him to five African countries, documenting grand colonial architecture and how it has become part of a contemporary African stage. An exhibition of his Fellowship work, Avenue Patrice Lumumba, was shown at the Peabody Museum in 2009, and was published in Avenue Patrice Lumumba (Peabody Museum Press and Prestel, 2009).

2008 Dayanita Singh (India). Singh’s Fellowship work began as a visual diary and later evolved into “photographic fiction.” Her Fellowship work was shown in the 2011 Peabody Museum exhibition House of Love, and was published in a book of the same name by Peabody Museum Press and Radius Books.

2009 Alessandra Sanguinetti (USA/Argentina). Sanguinetti continued a multi-year profile of two girls living in rural Argentina and their wider social networks for a project called, “The Life That Came.”

2010 Stephen Dupont (Australia). Dupont created a study of cultural erosion as well as a celebration of the Melanesian people in Stephen Dupont: Papua New Guinea Portraits and Diaries, currently on view in the Peabody Museum. A companion two-volume publication, Piksa Niugini, was published by Peabody Museum Press and Radius Books (2013).

2011 Miki Kratsman (Israel). Kratsman continued a project begun years ago to create a portfolio of photographs that explore how the medium of photography can be used to turn an ordinary moment in a person’s life into a suspect one. Kratsman presents Palestinians as targets as though viewed from the perspective of a soldier; as shahids or martyrs as portrayed on neighborhood posters or placards; and as “wanted men.” His volume, The Resolution of the Suspect (Radius and Peabody Museum Press).

2013 Yto Barrada (Morocco/France) Barrada is working on “A Hole is to Dig,” which engages the complex terrain of paleontology in her native Morocco. Barrada is exploring the topic from multiple human perspectives, from scientists, museums, and cultural heritage professionals, to those who collect fossils, and those who plunder and forge them. 

2014 Chloe Dewe Mathews (United Kingdom) is documenting the lives of people who live on the shores of the Caspian region, examining their relationship to the resource-rich but volatile lands either side of the sea.

2015 Deborah Luster (United States of America) is continuing her investigation of Angola Prison with a study of Angola as place. Angola lies in the lower Mississippi valley first inhabited by Mastodons and later the Tunica Tribe.  The site of the prison has been witness to slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction, Black Codes, convict leasing, Jim Crow, the Trustee System, segregation, and mass incarceration. 

About the Peabody Museum

The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. It is home to superb materials from Africa, ancient Europe, North America, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and South America in particular. In addition to its archaeological and ethnographic holdings, the Museum’s photographic archives, one of the largest of its kind, hold more than 500,000 historical photographs, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and chronicling anthropology, archaeology, and world culture.

Location: The Peabody Museum is located at 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge. The Museum is a short walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station.  Hours: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., seven days a week. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, $8 for children, 3–18. Free with Harvard ID or Museum membership. The Museum is free to Massachusetts residents Sundays, 9 A.M. to noon, year round, and Wednesdays from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. (September to May). Admission includes entry to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. For more information call 617-496-1027 or go online to:

Media Contact: For additional information or images, please contact Pamela Gerardi, Deputy Director, Curatorial Administration and Outreach.  Tel: (617) 496-0099,

To view more images of TRES Art’s work: