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Lines and Lineage.

Photographs by Tomas van Houtryve.
Radius Books, Santa Fe, USA, 2019. In English. 160 pp., 80 duotone illustrations, 10x12".

Signed copies available to order!

Publisher's Description

With Lines and Lineage, Tomas van Houtryve takes aim at America’s collective amnesia of history. The work addresses the missing photographic record of the period when Mexico ruled what we now know as the American West.

To visualize the people and places from the remarkable yet unseen Mexican era, van Houtryve chose to photograph the region with glass plates and a 19th-Century wooden camera. His portraits of direct descendants of early inhabitants of the West—mestizo, Afro-Latin, indigenous, Crypto-Jewish—are paired in diptychs with photographs of landscapes along the original border and architecture from the Mexican period. 

Lines and Lineage also includes historic maps and essays by Elisabeth Biondi and Carrie Gibson. This book lifts the pervasive fog of dominant Western mythology and makes us question the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West.


Belgian-American Tomas van Houtryve is a conceptual artist, photographer, and author whose major works interweave investigative journalism, philosophy, and metaphor. Van Houtryve makes images using a wide range of processes, ranging from 19th-century wet plate collodion to thermal imaging and Augmented Reality. His projects challenge notions of identity, memory and power, often by highlighting the slippage of wartime structures into everyday life. In partnership with the Pulitzer Center, van Houtryve has given high school and college presentations in California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and France. Van Houtryve has also made television appearances on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, ARTE and France 24, and has been a member of VII Agency since 2010.


Elisabeth Biondi was the Visuals Editor of The New Yorker for 15 years until she left in 2011 to work as an independent curator, writer, and teacher. She curated Subjective/Objective and Under the Bridge for the New York PhotoFestival 2011, and New Yorker Fiction/Real Photography at Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea. In the fall of 2011 her exhibition Beyond Words: Photography in the New Yorker was the season’s opening show at the Howard Greenberg Gallery. An expanded version traveled to the Ullens Center in Beijing in 2012. Her exhibition Widely Different: New York City Panoramas was on view at the Seaport Museum, New York in 2012. Most recently she has been a judge in the eight-episodes Sky Arts ‘Master of Photography’, which aired May/June/July, 2018. She teaches at SVA Graduate School for Photography and related Media. Her column Portfolio is published in Photograph magazine. She is one of the original founders of The Photography Master Retreat which takes place every year in the south of France.

Carrie Gibson is the author of the acclaimed El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America and Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean From Columbus to the Present Day. She received a PhD from Cambridge University, focusing on the Spanish Caribbean in the era of the Haitian Revolution, and has worked as a journalist for the Guardian and contributed to other publications, as well as the BBC. She has done research across Mexico, the West Indies, and North America. She lives in London.


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